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THE KINGDOM OF GOD 
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NIW TORT . BOSTON CHICAGO DALLAS 
ATLANTA . BAN FBANCISCO 

MACMILLAN & CO., LIMIMD 

LONDON . BOMBAY . CALCUTTA 
UCLBOUBNR 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
OF CANADA, LIMITED 



The Kingdom of God 

in the 

New Testament 



BY 

ERNEST F. SCOTT, D.D. 

Processor of Netv Testament Criticism 
Union Theological Seminary, New York 



NEW YORK 

THE MACMELLAN COMPANY 
1931 



CbmwHt, 1931, 
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY. 

All rights reservedno p&rt of this book 
may be reproduced m aoy form without 
permission in writing from the publisher. 

Set up and electrolysed. 



PREFACE 

THE student of the New Testament cannot but 
realize that the idea which is everywhere fundamen- 
tal is that of the Kingdom of God. It was primary 
with Jesus himself, and when we look beneath the 
surface it was no less so with Paul and the later 
teachers. Nothing is so necessary for the under- 
standing of our religion as to grasp something of the 
meaning of this central idea. 

The chief jajmof the present book is to determine 
how Jesus conceived of the KkigdjMn^^of ( Gptd. For 
this purpose there must first be some inquiry into the 
origin and earlier history of the conception; and too 
often this has been deemed sufficient. It is assumed 
that Jesus understood the hope of the Kingdom in its 
traditional Jewish form, and that when this has been 
ascertained we have the key to his whole message. 
An effort has been made in the present book to indi- 
cate the main directions in which his teaching was 
developed by his followers. Their thought, expressed 
though it is in very different language, is usually the 
best commentary on his own. 

5 



6 PREFACE 

In the course of this study I have been impressed 
more than ever with the depth and many-sidedness of 
Jesus' message, and am painfully aware of the inade- 
quacy of my brief exposition. Its limitations are due, 
I would hope, not merely to lack of knowledge and 
insight, but to an honest desire to find nothing in the 
Gospel records which is not there. 

E. F. SCOTT. 

New York 
January, 1930 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

PREFACE 5 

CHAPTER 

I. THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND .... 11 

(1) The Old Testament Conception ... 11 

(2) The Persian Influence 22 

(3) The Kingdom in Apocalyptic .... 29 

The Rabbinical Teaching 40 

Conclusion 46 

II. THE KINGDOM IN THE TEACHING OF JESUS . 48 

(1) Jesus' Use of the Conception ... 48 

66 



(2) The Apocalyptic Element . 

(3) The Kingdom as Present and Future 
The Kingdom as the Spiritual Order 
Entrance into the Kingdom 

The Kingdom and the Inward Life 



82 
90 

The Kingdom and the New Righteousness 96 

The Kingdom and Human Society 



Jesus' Conception of the Kingdom 

(10) The Value ot the Apocalyptic Forms 

(11) Jesus' Relation to the Kingdom . 



103 
111 
115 
119 



III. THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 129 

(1) The Transition 129 

(2) The Kingdom as Apocalyptic . . . . 134 

(3) The Ideal World 143 

(4) The New Life 155 

(5) The Church 167 

IV. CONCLUSION , 184 



THE KINGDOM OF GOD 
IN THE NEW TESTAMENT 



CHAPTER I 
THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 

(1) The Old Testament Conception 
IT seems almost impossible to define the Christian 
"gospel." Sometimes it is identified with our religion 
as a whole, sometimes with some element in it which 
is regarded as central. To accept the gospel is to 
believe in the Atonement, or the love of God, or the 
revelation in Christ, or the fact of human brother- 
hood. Yet it is well to remember that the word which 
is now used so loosely had, at the outset, a meaning 
which was clearly understood. "J esus came into Gali- 
lcSu4aAiBg*thgjgpspel of the Kingdom of God 
and saying, The time is fulfilli^iS^ pf 

Gbcl is at hand." This, in its origin, was the Chris- 
tian flifcssagei It was to undergo a marvelous devel- 
opment, in the teaching of Jesus himself and in the 
later thought of the church; biit the " 
has alwajs teen^g^tiall^ wj^ &w& 
'announcement of the Kingdom of God. 

' ' *" " ' ' ' *" ' ^ l ^^'-V'^.'^ it ^ HfKtWlil ^ fi 

It is evident from the manner in which Jesus made 
11 



12 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

the announcement that he took up an idea which 
was already familiar. He did not explain what he 

meant by the Kingdom, for he could assume that all 

_ jf> 

his hearers were looking forward to it. Their hope 

for it had newly been quickened by John, the ,Bagtjj& 
and it has sometimes been held that since Jesus 
repeated the earlier proclamation, almost in the same 
words, he must have begun his work as a disciple 
of John. Such a theory is needless, for there was 
nothing new or peculiar in the idea of the Kingdom. 
The people had responded to John for no other rea-> 
son than that he seemed to confirm their own secret 
hope. They had long been thinking of the Kingdom 
and wondering when it would come, and a prophet 
had now arisen who declared that it was close at 
hand. The hope of the Kingdom was bound up with 
the religion of Israel, and, in one form or another, 
it lies at the heart of every religion. Men have always 
been conscious, however dimly, of a great end ii! 
which all things will at last find their consummation., 
Without some faith of this kind religion, and life 
itself, would have no basis or meaning. Before we 
can make anything of Jesus' teaching we need to 
realize that he did not start from a conception which 
had sprung up in his own mind, or in some given 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 13 

time or environment. His message has appealed to 
all men because the hope of the Kingdom, , taken in 
its larger sense, is common to all mankind. 

^ "* i, , , , ,,,>,i *,*,, -,*,** ,.-,tfto>* <,,,.,, ,i; " liWL ' ' ' 

In the religion of Israel, however, we must seek 
for the immediate origin of the idea of Jesus. Its 
roots may be traced to the belief, characteristic of al- 
most all Semitic religions, that the god was king of 
the territory in which he was worshiped. The god, 
in many instances, had no proper name but was simply 
known as "the King" Moloch or Melkart or Baal. 
In this manner Jahveh was King of Israel. When a 
human king was finally chosen it was in face of a 
strong protest from the prophet Samuel, supported, 
it would seem, by a large body of the people. The 
idea persisted, long after the royal house was firmly 
established, that the reigning king was only the vice- 
roy of the invisible one. It was this 1 belief that 
secured liberty to the prophets, and gave weight to 
their utterances. They came forward in the name of 
Jahveh, the true King of Israel. They disclosed his 
will and insisted that he must be obeyed, since apart 
from him the earthly king possessed no real au- 
thority. 

In its origin, therefore, the belief in a divine king- 
ship aT*mp(3i the same meaning for Israel as for 



14. THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

Bother Sejraric2eoples.^Jahveh was the ruler and pro- 
tector of the nation, assisted its armies in battle, 
imposed certain laws and ordinances to which it must 
submit. But from the outset there was one all-impor- 
tant difference between Jahveh and the neighboring 

ittB&mimwmiMwet^^wiHn^^^^'HiittaaaWWJtHl^rt**' 1 '*' u *'l"*,rii.4 )fcWl(1<lWlki . >1-i . .'I'*.. 1 *** 

gods. His peculiar attribute was rig^tgQjisjgte^ and 

' - M .vkwiW *******-,,..,-. , .,,-. * *.>*>** ' ^^ ^ ' ' (J 

from this it followed that his interest could not be 
confined to the success of Israel. He favored his 
people on condition that they were faithful to a moral 
law, and if they transgressed it he would turn against 
them. With growing reflection on the nature of 
Jahveh as a righteous God it was perceived that his 
kingship must extend far beyond the borders of 
Israel. Inasmuch as he stood for the cause of right 
all nations were accountable to him, even though they 
worshiped other gods. It was not doubted that these 
alien gods had a real existence, and ruled over their 
own peoples as Jahveh over his, but Jahveh wa 

^^M***"** 1 * 

somehow paramount, since he represSnfea that moral 

*T WH J ** *"* .'^*>**'^** WI * lo *^ ! * fc '*** a ^ * ' 

6r3^to'^riri^^ Israel 

a ^^^.^a^^iutiiftfr**^^ ' 

h^Be^ w SS^^^k UMjgge God, who was known 
as yet only by his own people but was none the less 
King of the whole earth. The day was coming when 
all nations would own his sovereignty. 
Out of this conviction arose the further one that 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 15 

the God of Israel was the Creator and Governor of 
the world. Israel, to be sure, was by no means sin- 
gular in so regarding its God. Every race has devel- 
oped some kind of cosmology in which the beginning 
of things and the operation of all natural forces are 
connected with its own divinities. The creation story 
in Genesis can be traced back to much older narra- 
tives in which Babylonian or Egyptian deities were 
described as making the world. But the Hebrew peo- 
ple could feel that the claim of Jahveh was on a dif- 
ferent footing. He was the God of righteousness, 
the upholder of that moral order which must be the 
basis of the universe. God's work in creation is the 
theme of some of the grandest passages in the Old 
Testament, and it is always associated with his other 
work of maintaining righteousness. Just as Greek 
thought assumed that Reason was the principle Be^ 

^ ur iJgTian<iiM"i*i **^,.^**^*^*^^ n M^^^^^^w u j~***''' ***'***<*' iH>im*'**tV>*>mitl**uv J .:> t .i, llf i*, u 

TSndTajl jlb&UBJ^fe ,itSu5fiawi 

on the nfiQr^Javik In, the God who upheld that law 
it discovered the Maker of the world. And as he 
had created he also governed it. Sometimes he is 
Jiimself regarded as directing the stars and winds and 
lightnings; more often he appears as the Lord of 
an infinite host of spirits who execute his will He 
dwells in heaven and from that height keeps watch 



16 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

over his creation and orders it according to his 
will. 

Thus from the idea of Jahveh as King of Israel 
arose that of the one God, who reigns ovef all nations 
"and who made and governs the universe. There was 
one problem, however, which forced itself on the 
Hebrew thinkers, and out of their effort to answer it 
emerged that hope of the Kingdom of God which 
Judaism was to bequeath to Christianity. If God is 
the universal King why is he acknowledged only in 
Israel? Above all, why does he permit his own peo- 
ple to be subjected by nations that refuse to own 
him? The prophets and psalmists are always grap- 
pling with this problem, and arrive, by different 
paths, at the same solution. As yet God is only known 
in Israel, but through Israel he will assert his uni- 
versal kingship. His dealings with Israel are all 
directed to this end. By the afflictions which he lays 
on his people he is cleansing them and training them 
in faithfulness, so that they may be worthy of their 
great destiny. On the higher levels of prophecy the 
purified Israel of the future is conceived as attract- 
ing all nations, by its high example, to the service of 
the one God. More often it is assumed that Israel 
when fully disciplined will be restored to God's favor 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 17 

and advanced by him to the sovereign place. As King 
of this preeminent people God will reign at last over 
the world. 

It is somewhat remarkable that'tke^auai term 
"Kingdom of GoH^oes'not occur in the Old Testa- 
ment. This may be simply a matter of accident, or is 
more probably due to the concrete style of Old Testa- 
ment language and thought. There is no attempt to 
formulate the idea of God's Kingship in a set doc- 
trine. The writers are concerned with the actual fact 
that the world is ordered by a divine power, which 
can be no other than the God whom Israel worships 
as altogether wise and righteous. Although the ab- 
stract term is wanting the idea itself is everywhere 
present. "The Lord shall reign for ever and ever." * 
"Thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the 
kings of the earth/ "The Holy One, the creator 
of Israel, your king." 3 "As I live, saith the King, 
whose name is the Lord/' * "His kingdom ruleth 
over all." 5 "The Lord sitteth as king for ever." a 
Perhaps the idea comes to its fullest expression in 
the 145th Psalm, a late composition, in which the 
writer endeavors to gather up the substance of the 

1 Ex. 15:18. * Is. 43:15. 5 Ps. 103:19. 

1 2 Kings, 19:15. 4 Jer. 46:18. * Ps. 29:10. 



18 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

whole preceding Psalter. The truth which he 
fastens on as central is that of the Kingship of 
God. "They shall speak of the glory of thy King- 
dom and talk of thy power, to make known to the 
sons of men his mighty acts and the glory of the 
majesty of his kingdom. Thy kingdom is an ever- 
lasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth 
throughout all generations." T It was inevitable that 
the later thinkers, reflecting on passages like these, 
which are scattered all through the Old Testament, 
should concentrate ^tkeax intone set phuc&se, "the 
Kingdom of God." 
The Old Testament conception, when we ermine it 

an"w*Y*' ,*r>*"V wr> " '"' ''^ ftJ!Wuli '^? 7f1 ** J '^^ T^- . > 

moteaoi^j,,^ aspect*' (1) On the 

one hand it is assumed that God is aftwtfy King. 
He made the world and governs it in righteousness. 
He is over all nations and uses them, although they 
are ignorant of him, as the instruments of his will. 
This faith in God's sovereignty is the very corner 
stone of Old Testament religion. It gives meaning 
to the whole demand for confidence in God and 
entire obedience to his will. "The Lord is King, 
be the people never so impatient; he sitteth between 
the cherubim, be the earth never so unquiet." This 

T Ps. I45:llff. 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 19 

magnificent rendering in the old Prayer-book ver- 
sion 8 is true at least to the spirit of the religion 
which finds utterance in the Psalms. God is reigning 
now, above all the world's tumult. In this knowl- 
edge his servants can trust him and wait on him 
patiently. (2) /On the other hand it is recognized 
that God's kingship lies in the future. He is the 
one true God, whose will must prevail; but as yet 
he is known only to his people. They look for a 
coming day when he will overcome all usurping 
powers and assert himself as King. So the prophets 
keep before them the vision of a new age when die 
reign of God will be fully manifest. In that happy 
time Israel will be exalted, the cause of justice will 
be established, the earth will be full of the glory 
of the Lord. Nature in that day will be restored 
to its pristine glory, and the wolf will lie down 
with the lamb, the cattle will feed in large pastures, 
the light of the moon will be as the light of the 
sun/ 

Behind this conception of a glorious future there 
doubtless lies an ancient Hebrew mythology which 
cannot now be reconstructed in detail, though traces 
of it may be discerned in many Old Testament 

8 Ps. 99:1. Is. Il:lF.; 30:23ff. 



20 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

allusions. It was apparently believed that the course 
of the world would swing round again to the begin- 
ning, and that there would be a final consummation 
in which the conditions of Eden would return. 
These mythological ideas were probably derived 
from Babylonian religion and were reenforced in 
the later Old Testament age by influences that came 
in from other alien sources. In many religions we 
find the conception of a world-cycle, a succession 
of ages which run their period, each worse than the 
one before it, until the wheel has made its full cirde 
and the end isi merged in the beginning. This belief 
is familiar to everyone in classical poetry and phi- 
losophy. The ages of silver and bronze have given 
place to the pitiless age of iron in which our lot is 
cast, but beyond it lies the Golden Age, with which 
the world began and to which it is returning. 
"Magnus ab integro saeclorum nascitur ordo." 10 A 
similar belief contributed to the shaping of the 
Hebrew conception of the Kingdom of God, but 
this idea of a happier future inherent in the order 
of nature is blended, in the prophetic vision, with 
the moral convictions involved in Hebrew religion. 
Since God is righteous he is working for the victory 

10 Vir&l, Eclogues, 4:2. 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 21 

of righteousness. Since he has made a covenant with 
his people he will be true to it and at last bring them 
deliverance. He will reign from Mount Zion and 
all nations will serve hfrn- King over a righteous 
people he will through them extend his dominion 
over the whole earth. 
The 4Ckudom, qf God, then, appears, in .the Old 

"** ""''*> "!-, , ^ t T"* * ' >ir* "r".' ' " '"''''' *** W **^"V(*' "'* " 

Testament under these two aspects. It is at once a 
present reality and a hope which will only be realized 
in the glorious future. In the later history of. the 
idea we meet constantly with the same apparent con- 
tradiction, and in the teaching of Jesus, as we shall 
see, it has given rise to serious problems. It might 
appear, when one set of passages is marshaled against 
another, that he was inconsistent with himself, or 
that our records are wholly at variance. But when 
we examine that Old Testament presentation in 
which the idea is set forth in its simplest form we 
can see that there is no real contradiction. In the 
future God will make fully manifest what he is In 
the present. His sovereignty exists now and has ever 
existed, as the sun shines always though it may be 
hidden by intervening clouds. The hope that God 
will reign is grounded in the confidence that he is 
reigning now. Believing that he is always on the 



22 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

throne his people can look for the time when he will 
overthrow all opposing powers and declare himself 
King. 

(2) The Persian Influence 
At this! point it is necessary to take some account 
of an influence which is already apparent in the 
later Old Testament books, and which was destined 
to transform the whole conception of the Kingdom. 
Hebrew religion, as has been indicated, was affected 
,by other religions, one of which was of primary 
importance in the three or ' four centuries before 
Christ. For the earlier half of this period Palestine 
was included in the great Persian empire, and of 
all the alien governments to which the country has 
submitted from time to time this one appears to have 
been most willingly accepted. The political and 
commercial intercourse with Persia laid the way 
open to influences of a spiritual kind. A religion 
had arisen in Persia which must be reckoned, after 
that of Israel itself, as the noblest of all the ancient 
forms of faith. In its ethical fervor and its lofty 
spiritual temper the religion of Zoroaster had a real 
affinity with that of the prophets. On its speculative 
side it had been molded, as the religion of Israel 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 23 

had been, by the ancient Babylonian beliefs. Thus 
it was easy, when the two religions were thrown 
ijitp close contact, for Persian ideas to .coalesce with 
Jewish. The foreign influence made itself chiefly 
felt in thought about the future and the unseen 
world. Persian religion was based on the theory of 
a conflict between two opposing powers, Good and 
Evil, Light and Darkness, Ahura Mazda and Ahri- 
man. Men were called on to take their part in this 
holy war, and increase the power of Ahura Mazda 
by the threefold exercise of "good thoughts, good 
words, good deeds/' .T^^jrdigi^has sometimes 
been descrijsed as a metaphy&icaL foaftw> iiK^vlM**" 

t **'iW'' * f< "" 

the conflict of good and evil was accepted as an 
ettetnal one, involved in the very nature of all'being^ 
This, however, is to forget the ethical interest which 
determined the whole teaching. The ethic was in- 
deed combined with a metaphysical mythology, but 
the ultimate victory of the good was assumed to be 
certain, or rather the good alone was regarded, from 
an absolute point of view, as having real existence. 
The religion distinguished between two kinds of 
Time: on the one hand, "time of the long period," 
embracing the whole history of the world; on the 
other hand "boundless time" or eternity. From this 



24 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

eternal sphere all evil is utterly excluded; it emerges 
only within this episode of earthly time in which 
man's lot is cast. During this period the powers of 
Ahura Mazda and Ahriman are evenly balanced, so 
that all human effort carries weight in the decision of 
the issue. The period extends for twelve thousand 
years, and is divided into four ages, each of three 
thousand years. With the advent of Zoroaster the 
final age began, and will include three millennial 
periods. At the end of each of them will appear a 
Savior, who will gather to himself all who have 
striven for the good in the thousand previous years. 
The end of the final millennium will see the advent 
of a supreme Savior (Saoshyant), who will preside 
over the great transition from the temporal to the 
eternal. Ahura Mazda will achieve his victory and 
all who have served him will have their abode for- 
ever in his realm of light. The present world will 
be absorbed in another, the "Kingdom of Ahura," 
the "good kingdom," the "kingdom of good thought, 
word and deed." It lies in the future, and the hope 
of it is the supreme motive for all right effort; yet 
in a sense it is already present. This idea is expressed 
mythologically in the strange doctrine of Khashthra 
Vairya, in which the "good kingdom" is personified. 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 25 

Ahura Mazda is surrounded by six high Spirits or 
Archangels (Amesha Spentas) who are conceived as 
dwelling in the planets. But while personal beings 
they represent the grand attributes of the supreme 
Lord, and the third in rank (after "good spirit" and 
"divine law") is his "sovereignty." Thus while the 
Kingdom is only to be realized at the end of the 
ages 1 it exists already as a living power. It can be 
apprehended almost personally as one of the angelic 
ministers through whom God supports and directs 
his people. 

From this brief outline it will be apparent that 

^ ^^^:r^' v ~;:'"^^ < 

Persian religion offers many striking parallels to con- 

***"^t_ t ^A^u*. ,4 Wte '^A^O- S'W-'^W *' "'* '""' '"* V-'Xl'-^-'.lit**. ".I ". * "j* "W? - '"' 

cepaoiiy IMC are ramiliar to us in Judaism. In both 
religions we have the doctrines of a future life, a 
Messiah, an adversary of God, angelic beings, a new 
age, a Kingdom of GocL THe resemblances are so 
marked that some modern scholars have held that 
Jewish religion in its later phase was completely re- 
fashioned under the Persian influence, and that most 
of the beliefs which have come down to us in 
Christianity are more Persian than Jewish. 11 In this 
view there is no doubt a measure of truth. The 



11 This view has been elaborated with immense learning but in a 
one-sided fashion by Von Gall, Basileia Theou. 



26 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

Hebrew mind was not speculative and had never 
attempted to throw its great ideas into theological 
form. It welcomed the Persian speculations, as it 
afterwards did the Greek, for the purpose of develop- 
ing and formulating its own beliefs. But the debt 
to Persian thought must not be exaggerated. It 
becomes evident, on closer analysis, that almost all 
the ideas which might seem to be borrowed from 
Persia were already present in Hebrew religion. 
Little was derived from the alien source except a 
new mode of expression for these native ideas. In 
any case it needs always to be remembered that a 
belief cannot be transferred from one religion to 
another without undergoing a change of substance. 
Properly speaking there are no foreign elements in 
the later Judaism. Ideas that came in from without 
have all been assimilated, and serve only to mature 
and define the Hebrew beliefs. 



fuller deveJtopWSRt to the Old Testament j 
of the Ipgclpm,pf God, (i) A number of ideas 
which had hitherto remained separate could now 
be apprehended in their unity. It is impressed on us 
in the earlier writings that in the service of God 
men will find life and happiness, they will attain 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 27 

to the true wisdom, they will advance the good of 
Israel and thereby of the world. As yet there was 
no means of summing up, under a single conception, 
all these motives which give meaning to religion. 

It was undejc.the ,B$$ian influence that this synthesis 

'-" " .' ,'>,'^, , , ,,, , .. .* 

\y;as achieved. Men are placed on this earth to take 
sides with God in his great warfare and share at 
last in his victory. All things would reach their 
fulfillment in the coming of the Kingdom of God. 
(2) The idea of the Kingdom could now be detached 
in some measure from purely national interests. It 
had arisen from the belief in Jahveh as King of 
Israel, and through all its later history this par- 
ticularism was stamped on it like a birthmark. Along 
with the thought of God as the world's King there 
was always the assurance that his kingship would 
mfcan the exaltation of Israel. Yet in the later period 
the national hope tends to fall into the background. 
Israel will have a peculiar share in the blessedness 
of the future; this is assumed as self-evident. But 
increasing stress is laid on the larger implications 
of the hope. The deliverance of Israel comes to be 
regarded as only the prelude to the true reign of 
God. (3) The conception was lifted tojhe trans- 
cendental plane. In the Old Testament the Kingdom 



28 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

is described in terms of earthly perfection and felicity. 
It will be ushered in by a king who springs from 
the house of David. It will have Jerusalem as its 
center, and will insure peace and justice and pure 
worship for $J1 nations. It will be accompanied with 
such conditions of nature as prevailed in the days of 
Eden. According to the later conception the King- 
dom will involve the change of the whole present 
order into another. God will interpose by way of 
miracle and create everything anew. ^The scene of 
the Kingdom will be eitjier heaven itself or an earth 
transformed into the likeness of heaven. It is here, 
perhaps, that the Persian strain of thought is most 

indubitable. 

*, , . , ,, .,.,..,,. 

The Old Testament picture of the future even 
when it is touched with mythological colors always 
keeps close to earthly realities. The new age is con- 
ceived as one which will come by natural process 
and perfect the things we know. For the later 
thinkers the Kingdom is wholly supernatural. The 
world of darkness gives place, as in Persian religion, 
to the world of light. (4) It was from Persia that 
Judaism took over the imaginative forms under 
which the coming of the Kingdom was now con- 
ceived. We hear of angelic powers engaged on the 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 29 

side of God or against him; of a series of dramatic 
events which lead up to the great change; of a 
heaven and hell and a hierarchy of spirits. In the 
Old Testament we meet with none of these specula- 
tions on the nature of the unseen world and the life 
hereafter, while in Persian religion they are all- 
pervading. To a great extent the Persian mythology 
may be said to have passed over into Judaism. 

(3)f Te Kingdom in Apocalyptic 
It is in the so-called apocalyptic writings that the 

' ' 



^ w*<T**^ . *V'V * v ' * ,- -' '*"> *- '.-.** * ^ ^ , ,. >tw ^ 

idea jor the^Kingdom is fully developed, under these 
Persian influenes^ Tlje ,teiro "apocalffitic" is com- 
monly reserved for a Hteranire"wlii36L' flourished 
during the period from 200 B.C. to 100 A.D. Its 

*^ t '. ' i I ,t, . - > , . I Wn i ,i' ' > ' li*. , ^4,,,, i u , 

earliest surviving document (apart from some Trag- 

, kl -^.,4*-*A^i**---' > '' t -* >W ' 1 *"-^' J -**".~* *-**.. , V 

ments of the book of Enoch) is the book of Daniel, 
and the latest is 4th Esdras. In these opening and 
dosing utterances the apocalyptic genius attains to 
its highest level. Between them, however, there are 
some thirty or forty books which have been recovered 
in whole or in part within our own times. TJifise 
writings w ^ jr-h had naftscdLsQ IMP ifffif oblivion have 

**&>' jMrf **Sn *""' "** w "*''** * ^c>'*' Br ''* hW '*iMi** t ,'*i < ^ , iik< ^ ( 

thrown a flood of light on the Judaism which gave 

^ 1 .^^*~**^+*^^*^^*<**>B*i**'**^<' *i**.Mi* "* *r- ^mf rf -rjri*ftuiL%tnar j^ 

AJW ll i(ai**'l"**"*"* T^""^ 

birth to 



30 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

The apocalyptic literature, properly so-called, had 
thus its origin in the second century before Christ; 
but it repreectts^.. r tjpe of thought which was much 
prdet. -Several of the Psalms" may be dassed a& 
apocalyptic; ever and again in the prophetic books 
we meet with passages which are purely apocalyptic 
in character. It is hard, indeed, to draw the line 
between prophecy and apocalyptic. A difference is 
certainly apparent when we turn from Isaiah or 
Jeremiah to Enoch and 4t;h Esdras. The prophets 
were responsible leaders of a free people, and were 
concerned with, .real^itw^iojpis.in ^ which they sought 
to ascertain God's will and make it effective in the 
national life. The appjCiilypjd^tSLalsQL ,Jb&djft message, 
but Imewuharicffi^d^do nothing to control events, 
and were content to build Utopias wKere the prophets 
' had tried to plan out a future that might be realised. 
Yet apocalyptic J$OT, but- 

^tf.f.^/n^ffffffi friw.W/V,*!*^"**' ' ' * *"* 

growth or at least, the aJtowtfta of vfK&^fceqr. Under 
the changed conditions there was no place for 
prophecy in the old sense, but prophetic activity 
was continued in a form adapted to the time. 

It has been generally assumed that the apocalyptic 
books arose as a popular literature, in contrast to 
the abstract discussions of the official Rabbis. Just 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 31 

as among ourselves the plain people used to read 
the Pilgrim's Progress while the learned were occu- 
pied with doctrinal treatises, so it is held that in the 
time of Christ ordinary men and women sought their 
spiritual nourishment in those strange picture-books 
which the official teachers despised. On this ground 
it is argued that the Gospels must be understood 
in the light of the apocalypses. Jesus was a man 
of the people, nurtured on the popular literature, 
and in that literature we must seek the key to his 
thinking. One cannot but feel that this whole theory 
is founded on a very doubtful assumption. The 
apocalypses with their dreary artificial constructions 
and difficult symbolism can never have been popular. 
No one can imagine a normally constituted person 
in any age reading them for pleasure. For that part 
they seem to have been originally composed in 
Hebrew, which in the time of Jesus had become a 
learned language, employed in much the same way 
as Latin in the days of Bacon and Milton. So far 
from being a popular literature it is much more 
probable that the apocalyptic books were meant to 
be recondite. The popular teaching was that of the 
synagogue, in which the scriptures were expounded 
with the aid of homely illustrations and pity maxims 



32 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

bearing on ordinary life. Whatever its shortcomings 
the religion of the Law was eminently popular, and 
no pains were spared to make it fully intelligible 
to the people, who were expected to guide them- 
selves, in everyday conduct, by the demands of the 
Law. Apocalyptic had none of this practical im- 
portance. It dealt not with moral and religious 
duties but with the speculative background of re- 
ligion. Its interest was purely intellectual and 
theological. To our minds, certainly, there is little 
in the apocalyptic books that suggests a philosophy; 
but we must remember that philosophy in the Greek 
sense had as yet no existence among the Jews. The 
need which apocalyptic sought to answer was in 
essence the same as was later to find its satisfaction 
in philosophy. Religious beliefs had given rise to 
far-reaching questions as to the meaning and end of 
life, and the relation of man to the whole scheme 
of things. Where the Greeks tried to answer such 
questions by philosophical speculation the Jews 
turned to apocalyptic. 

Here it is necessary to touch on another miscon- 
ception whiich has obtained a wide currency. We 
are told that the ^pooiyptic writings were "tracts 
for bad times" :fjhat -vtfaqr;.. Deflected a mood of 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 33 

pessimism which the evils of the time had made 
unfrersafc Frotn 'tbis* point" of view the whole pur- 
pose of apocalyptic has commonly been explained. 
The nation had entered on a disastrousi period when 
it seemed as if nothing could be hoped for so long 
as the world remained on its present basis. All 
regenerating forces were dead, and nothing would 
suffice but that the whole existing order should be 
dissolved and a new one arise in its place. Now as a 
matter of historical fact the period in which apo- 
calyptic chiefly flourished was a fairly prosperous 
one. Israel, after the Maccabaean revival, was gov- 
erned by its native kings and ranked high among 
Eastern nations. The reign of Herod was one of 
outward splendor, and the mass of the people, under 
that strong and able ruler, enjoyed peace and security. 
Under the Roman administration, galling as it may 
have been to the national pride, justice and order 
were probably better maintained in Palestine than 
ever before or since. In the Gospel history and 
parables we have to do with a people who were 
protected by the laws, were free to follow their 
regular callings and established customs, were able 
to depend on the future and make provision for it. 
If fanatical agitators had left them alone they would 



34 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

have been well content, like the rest of the world, 
with the Roman peace. The gloom of the apo- 
calypses may be ascribed not so much to pessimism as 
to disillusionment. That better age foretold by the 
prophets had in some meaure been realized, with 
what results? Instead of a reign of God there was 
an Israel divided into jealous factions, intent on 
worldly and ignoble aims, less satisfied amidst all 
the material welfare than in the old days of strife 
and poverty. And the mood of disappointment which 
these books reflect was not due wholly to -outward 
conditions. It was largely the outcome of a real 
advance in religious thought and sentiment. The 
apocalyptic writings certainly stand on a far lower 
plane than the Old Testament; their most impressive 
passages are nothing but faint echoes of the prophets. 
Yet we are constantly aware that these later thinkers 
are reaching out toward higher conceptions than 
those which had dawned on even the greatest of 
their predecessors. They have grown conscious that 
to man s deeper hopes there can be no earthly fulfill- 
ment. Behind all their fantastic pictures there is a 
genuine sense of an invisible world which must be 
the true end of all our seeking. 
It is from this point of view that die new con- 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 35 

ception of the Kingdom of God which finds ex- 
pression in these books must ultimately be explained. 
Doubtless much is due to the influence of Persian 
religion, with its belief in the "good kingdom" which 
will be realized in that other world where Ahura 
Mazda reigns in light. But Jewish thought had by 
itself advanced beyond the Old Testament hope of a 
happier earth in which Israel will be exalted and 
attract all nations to Mount Zion. Like the prophets 
the apocalyptists contrast the present conditions with 
those of a glorious future, but it is now assumed 
that this future, which no human endeavor had 
brought nearer, will break in suddenly by the imme- 
diate act of God. It is assumed, too, that the new 
world which will arise will be different in kind 
from the present one. The order that now is will 
give place to a heavenly order. Man's life will be 
set free from all the burdens and hindrances which 
make it incapable of true well-being. God, who is 
now distant and apparently forgetful of his people, 
will dwell with them as an immediate presence. The 
difference between the earlier and the later outlook 
is marked by the changed conception of the Messiah. 
He is no longer an earthly king, succeeding to the 
throne of David, but a supernatural being who will 



36 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

appear from heaven. This transformation may owe 
something to the Persian doctrine of the mysterious 
Savior who will bring the world's history to its close; 
but something like it was involved in the new manner 
of conceiving the Kingdom. Only a heavenly being 
was adequate to the part now assigned to the 
Messiah of presiding over the great transition from 
the earthly to the new and higher order. 

The actual term "Kingdom of God" very seldom 
occurs in the apocalyptic books, though it is prom- 

k ',1 , , 'III<AV 'l ifc "*<J> *~uP! : I*l*lrtkl"l1'*" 11 " "l" "**'',', f $> ,W *--" Tr*Wl*.'W4* *"- "!. J.,., 

inent in the Psalms of Solomon, and elsewhere is at 
least suggested?* IrT^ew^of^tfee-constant use of this 
term by Jesus the absence of it is significant. If he 
had been closely dependent on the apocalyptic tradi- 
tion it is difficult to understand why he took as his 
watchword a term which his predecessors had 
avoided. They prefer to speak vaguely of "those 
days," "the coming days," "the consummation/' "the 
end of the world." Why they dislike a term Vhich 
had certainly become current in the thought of the 
time is not altogether easy to explain. Perhaps they 
adapt their language to the convention by which 
they speak in the character of revered figures of the 
past. Enoch, Moses, Ezra and the others could only 
refer to "the coming days," where later teachers had 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 37 

arrived at a clear conception of a "Kingdom of God." 
More likely, the term is avoided with a definite ob- 
ject. The Kingdom had become associated with those 
conditions foretold by the prophets when Israel 
would be delivered and Jerusalem would be the 
center of a happier earth. The apocalyprists have 
something more in their minds. What they look for 
is the complete change of all that now exists. There 
will not only be a reign of God but a new kind of 
world. 

This new outlook is strikingly illustrated by the 
manner in which the hope of the Kingdom becomes, 

__ - _. T |, ,,, aar -tr^.m |. < ,,, L><tl> jr^i r .. rHHWj - ffr m-^<*,m*'iJt ,"! A.. * , 

in s ?Jpf^^-^- On the one 



hand there will be a King3<^"which will endure 
for a liniitx^ggcfod four himjked^;t,ia^.thousand 
yeajcs, These are the "days of the Messiah/' who 
will work deliverance for Israel and institute a reign 
of peace and justice in which the whole earth will 
share. On the other hand there is "the coming age," 
which will set in when that age of the earthly Para- 
dise has run its course. According to one forecast 
the Messiah .himself, $lp&g w^^^w^om'liS has** 
goyernedy-will-die.'" The worid will pass out of being 
and a rfew'bne will arise in which God will reign 
for ever and ever. This is the true "Kingdom," to 



38 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

which the other will serve only as the vestibule. In 
this double expectation we can discern the effort to 
conserve the old national hope while at the same 
time transcending it. Since it was consecrated by Old 
Testament prophecy and never ceased to be a 
cherished element in Jewish religion, a place had to 
be made for it in connection with the larger hope; 
but the ultimate religious interests have now been 
detached from it. The distinction, however, between 
the Kingdom and the Coming Age was difficult to 
maintain. In Jewish thought generally and in the 
apocalyptic books themselves the two ideas constantly 
run together. The coming age is not separated from 
the days of the Messiah but includes them, as an 
integral part of the Kingdom. 

It may be . sa,id ,tfagref Qf e, that in their view of the 
^S^t^^iBSalZEffiJTOBW tae,thcee .maia iff- 
terests^, (1) There is first the purely speculative one 
of throwing light on the final mysteries. What is 
the purpose of the world? How must we imagine 
the future so as to find a solution to all the age-long 
problems? From one point of view apocalyptic is a 
metaphysical system, except that these Jewish think- 
ers do not work with philosophical categories but 
by way of ecstasy and intuition. (2) Again, there is 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 39 

the national interest. The hope of the Kingdom had 
sprung out of the belief in Jahveh as King of Israel, 
and however the hope was enlarged and sublimated 
this remained as a constant element in it. The reign 
of God over the world was unthinkable apart from 
the exaltation of Israel. Even when the attempt was 
made to rise above mere nationalism a concession 
had to be made to it in the doctrine of the "days of 
the Messiah." (3) Along with the national interest 
the ethical one which had always been blended with 
it in the religion of Israel was fully recognized. The 
apocalyptic writers are^concerned with the triumph 
of righteousness, not merely with that of Israel. 
Theylissume that Israel will inherit the Kingdom 
inasmuch as this nation alone has stood for right- 
eousness. It might appear, at first sight, as if the 
apocalyptic writers, with their dream of a new world 
emerging by a sudden miracle, have lost hold of all 
realities. They have exchanged the prophetic faith 
in the ultimate victory of right for a mere visionary 
hope. Yet in one sense the spirit of faith has never 
expressed itself so splendidly as in those apocalyptic 
dreamers. Believing as they do that the present world 
is only fit for destruction they are yet assured that 
righteousness will in the end prevail. Since the cause 



40 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

of God has failed another world will arise out of 
the ashes of this one in which he will accomplish 
his will. This invincible faith in a righteousness 
which nothing can overcome is the inner pulse of 
apocalyptic. 

(4) The Rabbinical Teaching 
The apocalyptic books cannot, as we have seen, 
be regarded as a popular literature. They are allu- 
sive and recondite, full of detail which would have 
little interest or meaning for the common mind. A 
distinction, however, must be made between the 
books themselves and the broad ideas on which they 
rest. No one would say that Dante addressed his 
great poem to a popular audience. It was difficult 
for his own age as it is difficult now, and of this 
he was well aware. Yet it accepted the general 
beliefs about hell and purgatory and heaven as they 
were understood in the Middle Ages. Its power con- 
sists in the spiritual insight which is applied to these 
current beliefs. In like manner the apocalyptic 
writers set out from ideas which were held, in some 
form, by everybody. They elaborate these ideas and 
seek to penetrate into their deeper import, but adhere 
in the main to the common positions of Judaism. 



THE HISTORICAL BACXGROUND 41 

This must be borne in mind when we turn from 
the apocalyptic view of the Kingdom to that which 
meets us in the Rabbinical literature. 

*/,;' . .,..,,. , , ,",-- .<*,' , , 

This literature contains many references to the 

fWhJW^J^i.tf v.w-v*- "'*?: ' .m /f*, .-v ; MI vw 7K rii. ~J , .- - u ,. Vi((1 ,. ^ ( ( , _ ^ ^ 

"Malkuth Shamaim" or Kingdom of Heaven, and 
this term has held a central place in Judaism ever 
since it finally assumed its historical form. According 
to a weU-Jbtowi m^xim^ "the prayer, iu which .the 
Malkuth Shamai.ro is not mentioned is no true 
,prayer." Here, however, as in almost all matters of 
Rabbinical teach ing, the question of date is trouble- 
some. The earliest reference to the Kingdom of 
Heaven which can be fixed with any certainty comes 
from a time about 70 A.D. Is it to be inferred from 
this that the term was adopted comparatively late, 
perhaps as a result of the prominence given to it in 
Christianity or in the message of John the Baptist? 
This is highly improbable, for in the Gospel records 
it is plainly understood to be generally familiar. 
Rabbinical teaching, moreover, was the deposit of 
a long tradition, and the date of the written docu- 
ments affords no clue to the time when the ideas 
originated. We may conclude with practical cer- 
tainty that Rabbis in the days oi Jesus were ccus- 
/ v , ,**.*. .^M*-***--^.-*^'^-'****^* -**/*"* ^r**w 

, ***'h/*W/* u- i.r, > i.*v,tfctfi''t,'i*ri *^ - , ff 1 f s~* 1 1 

tomed to speak of the Kingdom of Goq^ and 



42 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

employed the term in much the same sense as was 
given to it in the later literature. 

According to the Rabbinical view God has ever 
been king, but this truth has only emerged gradually 
and still awaits its full manifestation. God revealed 
himself as King to Abraham, and more amply and 
clearly to Moses on Mount Sinai. Through Moses 
the whole people of Israel learned to worship him 
as King. The world at large is still ignorant of him 
or refuses to own him; but the time is coming when 
his kingship will be everywhere acknowledged* This 
will be the Kingdom of Heaven the universal reign 
of the true religion which is now known only in 
Israel. The great text on which the doctrine is made 
to hang is that in Zechariah 14:9: "And the Lord 
shall be King over the whole earth; in that day the 
Lord shall be one and his name one." Sometimes 
the term "Malkuth Shamaim" is little more than 
another name for monotheism. The Kingdom will 
be fulfilled when all heathen religions perish and 
the whole world is united in the worship of the 
one God. 

}n the Rabbinical teaching, therefore, the King- 

'^^n',r*r* T n^r^i^^iw^ ' " **'' '"'' "''"<' > > *'^. 

dom i$ both E5$ent %&& future. It will not fully 

^..,,,'v nT'<'* r '' WP ''f*?,' ^.v^j^.vW'tmii*,*^^* * 

come until God is acknowledged by all nations, 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 43 

but in Israel he is already King. Not only so but 
the Kingdom is frequently associated, in the closest 
manner, with individual religion. Israel as a holy 
nation is under the divine Kingship, but those 
Israelites who are zealous for the true God and make 
it their one aim to obey him are subject to it in a 
peculiar manner. The Kingdom realhes itself when- 
ever a man submits his life to God. Not a few 
passages can be gathered from the Rabbinical litera- 
ture in which there is a real approach to the Gospel 
saying, "The Kingdom of God is within you." Too 
much, however, may be made of these passages, 
which must be taken, for the most part, in a purely 
formal sense. The test of inward submission to the 
Kingdom is stria performance of the Law. Accord- 
ing as a man observes or neglects a given ordinance 
he is said to take on or throw off the Kingdom. The 
word, indeed, often degenerates into a sort of 
technical term for the repetition of the Shema the 
stated confession of the unity of God. In the act of 
reciting this formula the pious Jew is said to "take 
on himself the yoke of the Kingdom." 

The Rabbis taught, then, that in the present age 
the Kingdom has a sporadic and hidden existence 
in the lives of isolated men who submit themselves 



44 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

to God; in the coming age it will be universal and 
manifest How is this change to be effected? In 
Hellenistic Judaism we meet with the idea that it 
will come of its own accord as the intrinsic truth of 
the Jewish religion forces conviction on unbelievers. 
But the prevailing view, and probably the only one 
held by Palestinian teachers, was that God himself 
would bring the change to pass by way of miracle. 
It was recognized that the world as it is now could 
never accept the Kingship of God. The existing 
kingdoms, especially the all-powerful empire of 
Rome, must be destroyed before there could arise 
that condition of things when God would reign. 
Here we discover the essential identity of the 
Rabbinical view with the apocalyptic one. It has 
often been contended, and one might think justly, 
that they were entirely different. For apocalyptic 
the Kingdom meant a new order of things, and the 
hope of it was entangled with fantastic ideas of 
cataclysm and judgment; while for the Rabbis the 
Kingdom was nothing but the reign of true religion 
in the life of the world and in the hearts of men. 
It is maintained that the origin of Jesus' conception 
must be sought in the Rabbinical and not in the 
apocalyptic tradition. On the face of it this is much 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 45 

the more probable theory, Jesus was a son of the 
Synagogue, and his mind was far more likely to be 
influenced by the teaching impressed on him since 
childhood than by the wild speculations of certain 

eccentric books. But the truth is that between the 

h.. ,-,.,. t t 

Rabbinical and the apocalyptic ideas there was no 
real difference- The authors of the apocalypses were 
perhaps themselves Rabbis. Their aim was to ex- 
plore the background of their beliefs, in much the 
same way as the Christian thinker to-day seeks to 
discover a philosophical basis for his faith. It was 
taught in the synagogue that the whole world would 
some day submit to God, as Israel worshiped him 
now. But what was involved in this future King- 
ship? How would it come to be realized? The con- 
clusion forced itself on thoughtful men as they 
reflected on the future age that God himself must 
intervene and break up the present order before he 
could create a new one. Apocalyptic merely sets 
forth, in fuller and more vivid detail, what was 
assumed in the more sober teaching of the Rabbis, 
If the world now lying in wickedness was to turn 
to the true God there must first be some great up- 
heaval. The existing order must disappear and give 
place to a new and better one. And if the apocalyptic 



46 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

hope is implicit in that of the synagogue it is no 
less true that the apocalyptists, with all their wild 
speculations, hold fast to the central idea of the 
Rabbis. For them, too, the Kingdom of God is that 
condition of things when the whole world will know 
an<^obey the one God. 

(5) Conclusion 

Jesus, then, fell heir to a conception which had 
passed through a long development in the religion 
of Israel. At the beginning we have the crude Sem- 
itic belief that the divinity of the tribe was at the same 
time its king; at the end we arrive at the magnificent 
hope o a new age coming, when God alone will 
reign over a regenerated world. This development 
was partly due to the mingling with Hebrew religion 
of foreign streams of thought, and especially of the 
speculations which had come in from Persia. It was 
due still more to the unfolding of great ideas which 
had always been implicit in Hebrew religion itself. 
Jahveh the King of the tribe was also the God of 
righteousness. Since he maintained the moral law 
he must be Governor of the world and its Creator. 
He could be trusted to overcome the powers of evil 
and bring all things at last into harmony with his 



THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 47 

will. It was not by any accident that Jesus, when he 
came forward with his message, chose out from the 
whole body of the ancient teaching this idea of the 
Kingdom of God. The more we study the religion 
of Israel, in the Old Testament and in the later 
literature, the more we realize that this was its vital 
idea. Everything else had its root in the confidence 
that God is reigning and will at last put all things 
under his feet. 

So the hope of the Kingdom had come to Jesus 
as his most precious inheritance from the old re- 
ligion. He separated it from all that was merely 
Jewish and laid bare the deeper meanings involved 
in it. He brought it into relation to his own knowl- 
edge of God and his new conception of the purpose 
of man's life. Through Jesus men learned to under- 
stand the hope in its full significance. It was linked 
henceforward not merely with the highest beliefs of 
Israel but with all the ideals and aspirations of 
mankind. 



CHAPTER II 
THE KINGDOM IN THE TEACHING OF JESUS 

(1) Jesus 9 Use of the Conception 
JESUS proclaimed the Kingdom of God, and 
we might have expected that whatever was ob- 
scure in his message his followers would at least 
understand its central theme. Yet almost from the 
first we find them uncertain as to what he meant. 
Our Gospels are full of sayings and parables about 
the Kingdom of God. We are told what it is like, 
how it will be manifested, who will inherit it, on 
what conditions it will be entered. But when all 
this has been learnt we are still left inquiring, "^hat 
is the IQagdgm?" It is evident that the evangelists 
themselves have only a confused idea as to how this 
question should be answered. 

The confusion may be accounted for in several 
ways. For one thing, Jesus' conception was entangled 
with Jewish beliefs wihich ia the later a^ge, and es- 
pecially when the mission had been transplanted to 

48 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 49 

Gentile soil, had in great measure become unin- 
telligible. Again, the church had sprung into being 
'after Jesus' death through a faith that centered in 
his own Person. The questions that occupied it had 
all some reference to his own nature and significance. 
Who was he? In what sense had he claimed to be 
the Messiah? Why had he died on the Cross? What 
was the meaning of his Resurrection? This interest 
directed to Jesus himself threw his teaching into the 
shadow. Once more, and here we may discover the 
chief reason, the conception of the Kingdom was a 
many-sided one, which by its nature could not be 
summed up in a single formula. We have seen that 
even in its earlier history it had gathered into itself 
all the ideas that lay deepest in Jewish religion. Jesus 
had now filled it with a new wealth of meaning, 
and the church was careful not to restrict his message 
by any fixed definition. It allowed room for many 
interpretations, widely differing from each other but 
all of them faithful to the essential thought of Jesus. 
This intrinsic largeness of the conception must be 
borne in mind when we set ourselves to examine the 
Gospel teaching. Modern inquiry, less wise in this 
respect than the early church, has fettered itself by 
the assumption that Jesus had in his mind a single 



50 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

clear-cut idea. When his various sayings on the 
Kingdom appear to be in any manner inconsistent 
they are forced into agreement by doubtful critical 
devices. It is taken for granted that he kept before 
him a more or less rigid scheme, and that everything 
must be so explained as to fit in with it exactly. 
One thinks, for instance, of the questions which 
have bulked so largely in the modern discussion. 
Did Jesus think of the Kingdom as present or future? 
Did he expect it to come gradually or by way of 
sudden catastrophe? Did he contemplate a dramatic 
outward event or an inward condition? Did he look 
for the Kingdom to be realized on this earth or in 
some invisible world? These questions are all legiti- 
mate, and we shall have to consider them; but it 
may be said at once that none of them admits of a 
simple answer on one side or another. So to answer 
them betrays a misunderstanding of the whole nature 
of Jesus' thought. He worked with forms taken over 
from Jewish tradition, and our knowledge of what 
they meant for Judaism is always of value for our 
understanding of his purpose. But he was not inter- 
ested in the forms for their own sake, and the study 
of their historical import will only carry us a little 
way. He used them to express his own conception 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 51 

of God and of the ultimate meaning of man's life. 
His view of the Kingdom is not in the last resort 
to be determined by careful comparison of passages 
in apocalyptic and Rabbinical literature, but in the 
light of the great ideas which pervade his own teach- 
ing. While he took over a traditional hope he recast 
it, informing it with those convictions which had 
come to him out of his own experience of God. In 
a real sense the idea of the Kingdom, though an 
JJSgggjL^^J^ is the given 

idea in the light of which all his own teaching must 
be understood, and yet, from another point of view, 
it must itself be explained from the new context 
into which he brought it. The rule holds good of 
all great teachers that the idea which they receive, 
and which they perhaps imagine themselves to be 
merely expounding, becomes in their minds a dif- 
ferent one- Plato took over his terms from 
Anaxagoras and Parmenides and the Eleatics, but 
each of them becomes in his hands a Platonic term, 
expressive not of what men thought before him but 
of his own peculiar outlook. It is even more true 
of Jesus that none of his ideas can be understood 
from its parallels in ordinary Judaism. All that was 
given him was woven in with his own thought and 



52 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

must be interpreted in the light of it. This is true, 
above all, of his main conception of the Kingdom 
of God. 

So it will be well to remind ourselves, in the first 
place, of some of th^ pTjqposes to which he turns 
this conception in the course of his teaching. ( 1 ) He 
constantly brings it forward as the inspiring hope 
which' must lie behind all action. Since the Kingdom 
is so near, men must prepare for it In the thought 
of it they are to find energy for all service to God 
and to their fellow men. The conviction that the 
Kingdom is near is to lift men above themselves and 
fill them with a new power. They can now dare 
and achieve what seemed impossible. (2) As they 
receive power, so also they find support and con- 
solation. The poor, the oppressed, the afflicted can 
bear up patiently, knowing that the present condi- 
tions will be only for a little while. In the confidence 
that God will soon establish his Kingdom men can 
pun^ "they can feel that even now, 

although he seems forgetful, he cares for them and 
is directing the world. (3) The Kingdom is for 
Jesus the criterion of all values. It is from this point 
of view that the hope of it may be said to determine 
all his ethical teaching. He has his mind fixed 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 53 

always on what will be when the Kingdom comes. 
What things will then be worth possessing? What 
type of character will be honored? What sort of 
conduct will God require? In the present age it is 
the powerful, the earthly minded, the self-seeking 
who are exalted; but this age is hastening to its end 
and the truly wise will conform themselves to those 
new demands which will hold good in the Kingdom. 
They will bring everything to the test of how it will 
appear then, when the present values will have lost 
their meaning. (4) The Kingdom is a reward on 
which men must set tfreif hearts. It is often objected 
that so much is made in Jesus' teaching of this motive 
of reward. Ought not the service of God to be dis- 
interested? Is there any essential difference between 
seeking an earthly reward and aiming at a greater 
one hereafter? But when Jesus spoke, in the religious 
language of his time, of "reward" he meant outcome 
or fruition. The value of anything is to be measured 
by its result, and the result of moral obedience is 

*ArxtflWnr*W*.i t i""i' t wwvfWWvm ". *." il ' "*"W *wr-.~*-i*p, 

the attainment of jite JKflgdflBl- Men are to realize 

<w-B( ^(faflMpW****^W <m " l ' l ' p """ w m -*vJi"mfWAHm 

that in doing the will of God they will obtain the 
supreme good. (5) Above all, the Kingdom is for 
Jesus the fulfillment of the divine purpose! OEe 
every teacher who has reflected deeply on human 



54 1HE KINGDOM OF GOD 

life and on the world around him he was conscious 
of an end toward which all things are working- He 
believed that this end for which the world exists is 
the Kingdom of God. In the light of what will then 
be he sought the meaning of what is now. It is here 
that we can discern one of the best-marked differences 
between his outlook and that of the Jewish apoc- 
alyptists. Their attitude is always that the present 
world is at the mercy of blind error. No meaning 
need be sought in it, and it will be simply blotted 
out to make room for the new age in which God 
will reign. Jesus looks to the new age to explain 
the present one. Since the reign of God is coming 
all that happens must have some relation to it and 
must be leading toward it. Knowing how God will 
manifest himself in the future we can perceive how 
he is working now, amidst all the seeming con- 
fusion. 
Thus everything in Jesus' thought is connected 

^** I * II '*"'M*I^MOT1)^I^ I ^ M w 

wi tn Jbis *ft -lOf the... liv J 1 l" nfn r This is the key at 
once to his ethic, to his theology, to his social teach- 
ing, to bis toward religion. On the other hand those 
various aspects d his thought all illuminate his idea 
of the Kingdom. In the effort to understand it we 
must never lose sight of this interaction between the 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 55 

conception itself and the manifold relations in which 
he viewed it. 

(2) The Apocalyptic Element 
There can be no reasonable doubt that Jesus started 
from the hope of the Kingdom as it was understood 
by the Jewish people in his time. He takes for 
granted that the term he uses will be intelligible to 
everyone. All were looking for the Kingdom, and 
he assured them that it was now close at hand. It 
is certain, too, that he attached his message to that 
of John the Baptist. John had awakened. ^x .^ger 
expectation, and when Jesus proclaimed the King- 

' ("t "**'' !' .'tf-.'' ,",.( '. ,',,, , , ii. i . 

dom in the very words which John had made familiar 
he mtist Have' meant die same tbfng as liis prede- 

<*!^Wili#^^''* 1; ^^ '"" '*'" "''' "" I ' ' " ' ' k 

cessor. John had brought tidings of the Kingdom, 
and here was one who confirmed and amplified the 
good news. 

Now there can be little question as to what John 
had in mind when he spoke of the Kingdom of God. 
We know from the fragments of his preaching which 
have been preserved to us that he announced a crisis, 
now imminent, when God would hold a judgment 
and separate his people from the wicked. He de- 
clared that this approaching crisis would usher in 



56 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

the Kingdom of God, and called on men to repent, 
so that they might stand in the Judgment and have 
a place allotted to them in the Kingdom. On those 
who repented he bestowed Baptism, as a seal of 
their acceptance by God. According to the Gospel 
iccounts John declared that he himself would pres- 
ently be followed by the Messiah, and because of 
this element in his message he was claimed by the 
church as the forerunner of Jesus. But it seems evi- 
dent that the Messiah whom he contemplated was a 
dread, supernatural being whose one function was 
judgment. In any case the reference to the Messiah 
was incidental to the main announcement of the 
Kingdom of God. 

From all this we can gather that John connected 
his message with that hope of the new age which 
had been developed, on the basis of prophecy, by 
the apocalyptic teachers. He has often been classed 
with those teachers as we know them from the sur- 
viving literature, and it may be granted that he is 
at one with them in his general conception of the 
future. But from this it cannot be inferred that he 
took over the complex eschatology of the apocalyptic 
books, or had much acquaintance with it. A great 
deal of confusion would be removed if we ceased to 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 57 

regard a certain group of ideas as peculiar to one 
eccentric type of Jewish thought. The truth is, as 
has been indicated already, that the main positions 
adopted in the apocalyptic writings were common 
property. Those anticipations of a crisis, a judgment, 
a new supernatural order suddenly brought in by a 
divine act, had their place in the ordinary synagogue 
teaching. 

What we call "apocalyptic," as if it were a well- 
defined type of thought by itself, was nothing but a 
normal aspect of Jewish belief. For all that he 
taught about the coming age John had no need to 
resort to out-of-the-way speculations. So far as we 
can gather there was nothing recondite in his scheme. 
He confined himself to those broad ideas about the 
future which were entertained, as a matter of course, 
by all pious Jews. Not only so, but it may be inferred 
from the whole tenor of his teaching that the apoc- 
alyptic interest was secondary to him. Of the near- 
ness of the Kingdom he was fully convinced, and 
he proclaimed it with a burning intensity. But his 
chief concern was with the moral reformation which 
in view of the approaching crisis was urgently neces- 
sary. He dwelt on the thought of the Kingdom in 
order to give momentum to his moral appeal. We 



58 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

know that for the people John was a prophet, and 
in this aspect he is always regarded in the New 
Testament. His true place in the history of religion 
is not with the apocalyptists but with the prophets. 
Because of its intimate relation to that of John it 
has often been argued, by modern writers, that the 
message of Jesus must be construed in a purely apoc- 
alyptic sense. But the truth is that John provides 
the best evidence against this construction. The 
interest of John was in righteousness. He threw all 
the emphasis on the "change of mind" which men 
must undergo if they would be accepted in the 
Judgment. And this, we may surely believe, was no 
less true of Jesus. John was his forerunner for this 
very reason that he took up the current apocalyptic 
hope and made it the motive to "repentance." 

The message of Jesus, then, attached itself to a 
conception which was broadly similar to that of John. 
The Kingdom of which he spoke was the new age, 
presently to break in, when God would assert his 
sovereignty. A generation ago, when the importance 
of the apocalyptic literature was first recognized, 
this side of his thought was magnified, almost to the 
exclusion of every other. It was maintained that all 
the older interpretations must now be set aside. 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 59 

Jesus was an apocalyptic enthusiast, and all our 
estimates of his purpose must be controlled by this 
primary fact. Such a one-sided view is no longer 
possible. We have grown aware, for one thing, that 
much of the apocalyptic color of the Gospels is due 
not to Jesus but to the later church. At the time when 
our Gospels were written it was believed that Jesus 
had departed in order to return at any moment in his 
Messianic glory to bring in the Kingdom. In this 
mood of tense expectation the Christian teachers 
could not but fasten on everything in Jesus' words 
that seemed to countenance their hopes. Not only 
did they heighten the apocalyptic element in his own 
thought but they ascribed to him not a few utterances 
of Jewish apocalyptists and of those Christian 
prophets to whom the Spirit had revealed the won- 
ders of the future. The 13th chapter of Mark, with 
its parallels in Matthew and Luke, is the one passage 
in which the coming crisis is discussed in detail, and 
it seems mainly to be composed of alien material, 
with a few authentic sayings as a nucleus. 

Nearly all the apocalyptic references in the Gospels 
need to be carefully scrutinized. Even when they 
may be accepted as genuine we have always to reckon 
with the possibility that something has been added 



60 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

or suggested in the interest of the later hope. When 
all this doubtful material has been allowed for and 
we take only those words on the future which may 
safely be attributed to Jesus himself, it is still mis- 
leading to call them "apocalyptic." This term is apt 
to imply that whole system of visionary ideas which 
we find in the book of Enoch and the other writings. 
There is a sound instinct behind the aversion with 
which many people still regard the apocalyptic read- 
ing of the Gospels. They rightly feel that Jesus, 
however we must explain him, was not a fanatical 
dreamer. He was too much in earnest, too much 
alive to the supreme issues of life, to ally himself 
with any variety of freak religion. But the whole 
question assumes a different character when once we 
realize that his so-called apocalyptic was nothing else 
than the ordinary Jewish belief of his time. He was 
no more apocalyptic than the great Rabbis, whose 
sobriety of temper has never been disputed. Un- 
doubtedly there was much in his teaching which 
appeared wild and dangerous, so much so that the 
religious leaders were bent, almost from the outset, 
on removing him. But it was not his hopes of the 
Kingdom which caused this misgiving. All his 
hearers shared, more or less consciously, in the same 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 61 

hopes. He held them, as we can gather from many 
indications, in a far less extravagant form than most 
of the orthodox teachers. Again and again some 
question was put to him which was freely debated 
in the Rabbinical schools, and he refused to answer 
it. He pretended to no occult knowledge of the 
invisible world. He practiced none of the "observa- 
tion" which tried to fix the precise date and manner 
of the coming of the Kingdom. So far from posing 
as an apocalyptic seer he disappointed the mass of 
his hearers by his deliberate silence as to the future. 
Nevertheless, for the very reason that he started 
from the common presuppositions, he thought of 
the Kingdom in the apocalyptic manner as the new 
age, in which the whole order of the world would 
be changed. Sometimes he refers to it explicitly as 
"the age to come," in contrast to the present age. 
He thinks of it as preceded by a crisis and a Judg- 
ment. He dwells on the completeness of the coming 
change, when the first will be last and the last first. 
It must be noted, too, that the apocalyptic strain is 
not confined to isolated sayings, which may be dis- 
posed of by critical ingenuity. When the teaching 
is closely examined we can perceive that behind it 
everywhere there is the thought of a new supernatural 



62 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

order. In the Sermon on the Mount, for instance, 
there is nothing that can be called directly apoc- 
alyptic Yet the discourse opens with the Beatitudes, 
which contrast the conditions of the present with 
those of the future* All through the chapters that 
follow it is assumed that men must break with the 
old requirements and submit to a new law, which is 
that of the coming age. This is the underlying 
motive of all the sayings which are woven together 
in this summary of the teaching of Jesus. 

But while he shared in the prevailing hope he took 
nothing to do with apocalyptic speculations for their 
own sake. Were there few that would be saved? * 
What would become of earthly relations in the new 
life? * How would honors and privileges be dis- 
tributed? * In questions of this kind which bulked 
so largely in apocalyptic discussion he had no in- 
terest. It was enough for him to know that a new 
age was coming in which all things would be dif- 
ferent. Even the time of the approaching crisis did 
not much concern him. He declared that it was near, 
but never tried, as prophets have usually done, to 
fix the hour. The day he looked for has now tarried 

1 Lk, 1J:2J, f Mk. 12:18ff. ' Mk. 9:36; 10:37f. 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 63 

for two thousand years, and his whole message, we 
are sometimes assured, was based on an illusion. But 
one may dare to affirm that even if he could have 
foreseen the long delay he would not have been 
greatly disturbed. The time of the Kingdom was 
one of those speculations which he left alone. All 
that mattered was the grand fact that the Kingdom 
was coming, and that God would establish it in his 
own time. 

The apocalyptic element in the teaching cannot, 
indeed, be set aside as mere imagery, a sort of pic- 
torial or parabolic language which is meant to con- 
vey spiritual truth. Jesus believed that God would 
interpose in some marvelous way and change the 
world's order. He expected a literal Judgment by 
which God's people would be set apart for eternal 
life. All this belonged to the current idea of the 
Kingdom as set forth in scripture, and he never 
thought of questioning it. But as he looked forward 
to the Kingdom his mind was intent not on its ex- 
ternal aspects but on the change it would involve 
in all moral and spiritual conditions. In that coming 
age God would reign. His will alone would prevail. 
Men would be wrought into full harmony with his 



64 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

will and would obey it gladly and spontaneously. 

r., ,/!''* 

This was the real significance which the hope of the 
Kingdom had for Jesus, His aim was to understand 
God's perfect will, but in the world as it is now it 
can only be dimly discerned. Under the earthly 
limitations it cannot operate freely. It has to adapt 
itself to men's weakness and ignorance; it has to 
compromise with all the material hindrances which 
stand in the way of its fulfillment. It must be thought 
of apart from these obstructions before it can be 
rightly apprehended. How Jesus did this may be 
illustrated by one passage, which at first sight may 
seem to have little bearing on his idea of the King- 
dom. When he was questioned on the Mosaic law 
of marriage he declared that it had been so framed 
"because of the hardness of men's hearts." * Human 
nature had so degenerated that nothing was possible 
but an imperfect law, and to ascertain the true law of 
marriage it is necessary to go back to * 'the beginning." 
In Eden, when man and woman were still as God 
had created them, the bond of marriage was com- 
plete and indissoluble, and such, in the divine in- 
tention, it must always be. May we not say that 
in his teaching on the Kingdom the mind of Jesus 
* Mk. 10:5. 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 65 

proceeds by the same method? He transports himself 
out of the present, in which the higher will strives 
vainly to assert itself in the face of earthly resistance, 
into the future. He conceives of a time when man's 
life is placed amidst perfect conditions, when God 
is known as an ever-present reality. For Jesus this 
coming age was no imagination. The hope of it had 
always been vital to his religion, and he never 
doubted that ere long it would be realized. So in his 
endeavor to know the will of God he turned from 
the confusion of the present to the Kingdom that 
was at hand. For others it was the age when Israel 
would be exalted, an age of universal happiness and 
peace. For Jesus it was in very truth the reign of 
God, who would at last subject all things entirely 
to his will. In the light of those future conditions 
when God's will would be fully manifest he sought 
to interpret it and make it effective now. Thus the 
Kingdom becomes for him another name for the 
will of God. He thinks of it in apocalyptic fashion 
as the new age in which all things will be marvelously 
transformed. But the transfomiation^ will consist 
above all in this :r:: tEat"Se will of God will hence- 

, r /,', ','/' , ' JlV - ,*' "'''I ,/*,'.<"< ,*-, ,' 

forth Wm-^Q^f^'ihy Kingdom come, thy will 



66 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

(3) The Kingdom as Present and Future 
When we thus understand Jesus' attitude to the 
traditional hope it is not difficult to answer the two 
crucial questions on which the modern discussion 
has so largely turned, (l) Did he conceive of the 
Kingdom as future, or as already, in some manner 
beginning? For Jewish thought the future conception 
was certainly the characteristic one. It is granted 
that God has been always King and that his servants 
even now can "take on themselves the yoke of the 
Kingdom/* Yet his reign in the proper sense lies 
in the future. The world's history falls into two 
ages, that which now is and that which is to come, 
and between them will be the crisis in which the 
whole existing order will disappear. It might seem 
from much in Jesus' teaching as if he had broken 
with this apocalyptic view. He sees in his miracles 
the sign that "the Kingdom of God is come unto 
you." He beholds in a vision Satan falling from his 
throne as prince of this world. He compares the 
Kingdom to seed to the mustard seed which grows 
into a spreading tree, to the grain that keeps spring- 
ing up while men sleep. In such sayings and parables 
he seems to describe himself as the sower of a seed 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 67 

which contains in itself the Kingdom. So when he 
put forward his Messianic claim he apparently 
thought of himself as already Messiah, and engaged 
in his destined task of inaugurating the Kingdom. 
The view of the church has always been that the 
Kingdom had its dawn in his appearance on earth, 
and this view may seem to be borne out by his own 
sayings. Yet it cannot be denied that his teaching 
as a whole points to the future. He sets out with the 
proclamation "The Kingdom is at hand" not yet 
in being but shortly to come. He is ever contrasting 
the conditions which now are with those that will 
be. He describes the coming signs by which men 
will know that the Kingdom is near, and assumes 
that it cannot reveal itself until the old order dis- 
appears. He bids his disciples pray for the Kingdom 
as for something that is still in the distance. The 
whole significance of the Kingdom is made to con- 
sist in its futurity. It lies in front of us as the 
hope that inspires us, the goal of our striving, the 
divine reality which will at last displace the earthly 
shadows. 

How are we to reconcile this seeming contradiction 
in Jesus* teaching? It is possible to argue that when 
he regards the Kingdom as present he merely de- 



68 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

clares, in a vivid, dramatic manner, that it is just 
imminent. "I saw Satan as lightning fall from 
heaven"; that is, Satan is as good as fallen, the reign 
of God is immediately at hand. Or all those passages 
in which the Kingdom is supposed to be present may 
be set down to later reflection. We know that 
from an early time it was made identical with the 
church, and a confusion of this kind may have ob- 
scured the record of Jesus' own sayings. Such 
theories, however, are uncalled for. There is no 
reason why Jesus should not have thought of the 
Kingdom both as present and future. It was so 
regarded in prophecy and apocalyptic; why should 
not Jesus conceive of it in like manner? Far more 
than the earlier teachers he was conscious of its 
present reality, for the whole drift of his thought is 
to merge the coming Kingdom in the sovereign will 
of God. Nothing, moreover, is more characteristic 
of his religion than his trust in God's providence. 
He is poles asunder from the ordinary apocalyptic 
view that God for the time being has withdrawn 
himself and has allowed the evil powers to usurp 
his place. There can be no condition of things in 
which God is not reigning. He feeds the sparrows 
and clothes the field flowers. He watches over his 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 69 

children and they are to find peace and security in 
the knowledge of his controlling will. With this 
intense realization of God as a living and all- 
sustaining presence it was impossible for Jesus to 
see the Kingdom as wholly in the future. Against 
such a reading of his thought we have to set not 
merely a few stray utterances but all the substance 
of his teaching and the motives which governed his 
own life. God's Kingdom is coming; it is also here. 
These ideas lie side by side in the mind of Jesus, 
and so far from being contradictory they must be 
taken together before we can rightly grasp the mean- 
ing of either of them. The future consummation will 
gather up and make manifest what has always been; 
the present is full of significance because it points 
forward to what shall be. It is the blending of these 
two lines of thought which gives distinctive character 
to the sayings of Jesus. 

(2) So with the other debated question as to 
whether the Kingdom is to burst in suddenly and 
miraculously or is to dawn gradually and grow from 
more to more. It is certain that the former view was 
the traditional one. The only notable exception to 
it is in the book of Jubilees, written at the time 
when Palestine had just regained its independence 



70 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

and the rule of the Maccabaean kings had opened 
under happy auspices. The author anticipates that 
the new prosperity will continue and steadily increase, 
until finally the consummation will arrive of its own 
accord. But this hope, born of unique conditions, 
stands alone, and the Kingdom, according to the 
normal view is to break in suddenly by God's im- 
mediate act. This apocalyptic forecast seems also 
to be assumed in the Rabbinical literature. God will 
at last be acknowledged by all nations because he 
will vindicate his power with a mighty hand. As 
he intervened at the time of the Exodus and the 
Assyrian invasion so he will destroy all heathen 
domination and bend the world to his will. Jesus 
inherited these conceptions. Ever and again in his 
teaching he takes for granted that the Kingdom 
will come catastrophically. In a moment, when men 
are never thinking of it, the crisis will be upon them. 
l lt is compared to the lightning, or to the flood of 
Noah which .came without warning. It will over- 
whelm men and separate them while they are work- 
ing in the field or grinding at the mill. In view of 
this suddenness of the great change Jesus enjoins the 
duty of constant watchfulness. Several of his most 
impressive parables turn on the thought that the 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 71 

true disciple must be always ready, lest he may be 
taken unaware. 

No doubt in this aspect of the teaching we must 
allow for the reading back into the record of that 
hope of the Parousia which was still powerful when 
our Gospels were written; but the references to an 
instant coming of the Kingdom are so frequent and 
so integral to the message as a whole that they 
cannot be eliminated. Yet here, as in the other 
conception, we have to recognize a double strain in 
Jesus' thinking. Most notably in those parables of 
the seed, already mentioned, he seems to contemplate 
a gradual coming of the Kingdom. It must indeed 
be remembered that the metaphor of seed did not 
have the same import for the ancient mind that we 
find in it now. The growth of a seed stood not so 
much for development as for mystery. A seed cast 
into the ground and passing through apparent death 
into larger life was the typical example of divine 
action. So it is regarded by Paul and John, and the 
crowning disclosure at the Eleusinian Mysteries was 
conveyed through the exhibition of a seed. Jesus, it 
is certain, never anticipated a Kingdom which would 
mature through an age-long process. He takes his 
example not from the acorn but the mustard seed, 



72 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

which rushes up in the course of a single season 
into an overshadowing tree. None the less the meta- 
phor, however we understand it, signifies a growth. 
For that part, even in those sayings where he dwells 
explicitly on the suddenness of the crisis, Jesus makes 
room for preliminary signs. He points to his own 
teaching and miracles as among these signs of the 
Kingdom. If the closing apocalyptic discourse is in 
any degree authentic he allowed for a drama, long 
drawn out, which would lead up to the great day. 
Although at last it will come all in a moment it will 
not take the world altogether by surprise. 

Thus it may be inferred that the sudden coming 
of the Kingdom was not an essential element of 
Jesus' thought. He took over the traditional hope, 
which assumed that the change would be brought 
about by way of catastrophe; but this belonged to 
the framework which had been given him. For him- 
self it mattered little whether God would fulfill his 
purpose by a gradual process or by a momentary act. 
Indeed with his new conception pf the Kingdom as 
consisting above all in the full acceptance of the 
will of God he could not think of it as appearing 
in a single flash. Without the inward change the 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 73 

outward one would mean nothing, and the growth 
of a new will in men would necessarily be slow and 
difficult. This was fully perceived by Jesus when 
he turned his back on all swift, spectacular methods 
of forcing the Kingdom, and gave himself to the 
thankless task of teaching. Only spiritual action 
could effect a spiritual change. In one respect only 
can we regard the sudden coming of the Kingdom 
as bound up with an essential interest in Jesus' 
thought. Even in apocalyptic the suddenness is of 
no value for its own sake. Emphasis is laid on it 
because it suggests immediate divine action. In all 
times the sudden and the supernatural have been 
closely associated in men's minds. That which hap- 
pens at once, before ordinary forces have had time 
to operate, can apparently have no other cause than 
the finger of God. Thus in apocalyptic the change 
was conceived as instantaneous, not only because a 
catastrophe quite unlocked for was impressive to the 
imagination, but because it meant that God himself 
had put forth his power. 

It is for this reason that Jesus, too, insists on the 
apocalyptic idea. He thinks of the Kingdom as com- 
ing by the direct act of God; this is a cardinal ele- 



74 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

ment in his whole conception. In much of our 
modern religion it is laid down as a first principle 
that the world cannot change to something better 
except by the effort of men themselves. We speak of 
"building up the Kingdom" by earnest Christian 
work; we think of it as the far-off goal to be attained 
through growing knowledge, better legislation, 
strengthening of human brotherhood. It will emerge 
at last like a coral island from the accumulated labor 
of unnumbered faithful lives. This conception of a 
Kingdom which will owe its being to man's own 
endeavor is sometimes regarded as the distinctive 
gain of our modern Christianity. We contrast it, 
self-complacently, with the old belief that men must 
wait on God for some marvelous fulfillment of his 
will. What was this faith but the excuse for indo- 
lence or timidity? The will of God cannot fulfill 
itself until men bestir themselves and fulfill it for 
him. Yet there can be no question that the older 
attitude, however we choose to describe it, was that 
of Jesus. The Kingdom to which he looked forward 
was God's Kingdom; men are powerless to bring 
it into being. They can wait for it, they can make 
the world ready to receive it, there must be no 
limit to the labor and fidelity with which they 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 75 

perfonn this work of preparation. Yet the King- 
dom is of God and must be given directly from 
God. 

This belief lies at the very heart of Jesus' message. 
He insists on watchfulness and faithful stewardship 
and declares that no sacrifice can be too great for 
the sake of the Kingdom. But he finds the very 
motive for all human effort in the knowledge that 
behind us there is a divine power on which we can 
rely and which is certain in the end to accomplish its 
purpose. So the belief that the Kingdom will break 
in suddenly may be discounted, as part of the tradi- 
tional hope; but in so far as this suddenness implies 
the action of God himself we have to reckon with 
an idea which belongs to the very substance of 
Jesus' thought. It would perhaps be well if our 
religion could recover this idea which it claims to 
have outgrown. The faith that behind our own poor 
effort there is a divine victorious power has never 
been a hindrance to human endeavor. All the great- 
est work has been done in the strength of it, and 
apart from it our best-meant activities will come 
to little. Christianity cannot be separated from the 
belief that God himself must bring in his Kingdom. 
The apocalyptic forms have lost their meaning, but 



76 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

the truth expressed by them still lies at the very roots 
of our religion. 

(4) The Kingdom as the Spiritual Order 
Jesus set out from the hope of the Kingdom as it 
had come to him through his Jewish inheritance. 
He believed that a crisis was near in which God 
would overthrow all hostile powers, and that it 
would be followed by a new age, when the present 
order would give place to a higher one. He thinks of 
this new order primarily in its moral aspects. Under 
those perfect conditions which will prevail in the 
Kingdom the will of God will be perfectly realized. 
The coming of the Kingdom means the fulfillment of 
the will of God. At the same time the idea of a higher 
order of existence, over against the earthly one, plays 
a very real part in Jesus' thought. He does not for- 
mulate it in philosophical or mystical language, but 
everywhere in the background of his teaching we are 
conscious of a profound sense that this world is 
transient and unreal and that man's true interest 
lies elsewhere. Earthly things have meaning only in 
so far as through them we can lay hold of that which 
is eternal. It is all-important to recognize that 
although the ethical counts for so much in Jesus' 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 77 

teaching he does not value it for its own sake. The 
end of right living is to gain the Kingdom. There 
is a higher world to which men as God's children 
belong, and by way of righteousness they can obtain 
their part in it. A day is coming when the world 
of reality will be revealed, and even now we can in 
some measure apprehend it and thereby attain to 
true life. These two aspects of the Kingdom as at 
once the moral order and the higher spiritual order 
are inseparable in Jesus' thought, and the denial of 
one or the other of them has been the cause of 
endless confusion. Christianity has been presented 
sometimes as a system of worship and sacrament by 
which we are brought into relation to an invisible 
world. Sometimes the stress has been laid exclusively 
on moral requirements, so that the religion becomes 
little more than a, superior code of ethics. 

In old days it was the former presentation which 
held the field. The church declared that through 
Christ men were lifted, even in this life, to a higher 
plane of existence. They had fellowship with saints 
and angels and were admitted to a world of mystery 
which lies all around us though it is hidden by the 
earthly veil. All the resources of architecture and 
music and solemn ritual were called in to awaken 



78 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

the sense of a divine order, and the purely moral 
demands were too often thrust into the background. 
The true Christian attitude was that of "contempt 
of the world." Men deliberately turned away from 
practical duties in order to devote themselves wholly 
to worship and contemplation and so aspire to the 
beatific vision which was the highest prize of the 
Christian life. In our time it is the other conception 
in which we are wont to recognize the true purpose 
of Jesus.. He came to enforce the sujpreme value of 
me v erihicaj[^^As the child of a religious age he was 
compelled to view ethics in the light of religion and 
combined his moral teaching with a strange theory, 
taken over from current tradition, about the King- 
dom r of ,God. But all this belonged to the wrappings 
of his thought. What really concerned him was the 
virtuous life, the creation of a better society on the 
ground of human brotherhood. This exclusive 
emphasis on the ethical is hailed as a recovery of 
the true gospel. Yet the other conception is no less 
essentially bound up with Jesus' teaching. As soon 
as we try to explain the ethical sayings we find that 
he is viewing man's life in its larger, spiritual rela- 
tions. By moral obedience men are to seek the King- 
dom of God, and the Kingdom does not consist 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 79 

merely in the approval of conscience, or a more 
upright character, or the improvement of human 
society. By service of God you reach out beyond the 
earthly things, you throw in your lot with a higher 
supernatural order. 

In that medieval conception which we sometimes 
boast of having left behind us there is a great truth, 
and one which certainly had its place in the mind 
of Jesus. There can be no religion which is not, in 
some manner, sacramental. The sense of a higher 
reality, reflected in things visible, is the very basis 
of man's spiritual life. It supplies the impulse to all 
art and poetry, and manifests itself above all in reli- 
gion. The religious mood might almost be defined 
as that in which we become conscious, amidst earthly 
appearances, of something beyond. This mood was 
ever present with Jesus, and his aim was to impress 
on men, as he felt it himself, the nearness and reality 
of the invisible world. He called it the Kingdom 
of God, and we miss the full scope of his conception 
when we look solely to its ethical bearings. In his 
idea of the Kingdom he comprehended everything 

"~*"''' J '*''' J ' ** ' ' 



u-iirnmmn~iimaii.iiii _ ___ _ ____ i 1 npt 

'that belongs to w^'^^fj^BsSTSk. To be sure he 
toot" nothing to do with those aesthetic and philo- 
sophical interests which counted for so much in the 



80 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

contemporary Pagan world; most likely he was igno- 
rant of them. It has often been maintained that 
under the influence of his gospel men lost their feel- 
ing for the beauty and mystery around them, and 
only recovered it when they found their way back to 
the Pagan ideals. But that narrowing of the spiritual 
outlook which we associate with the dark ages was 
not due to Jesus. On the contrary it was through 
him, in the last resort, that men became dearly 
aware of a higher order which gives meaning and 
glory to the earthly one. 

All that is noblest in the thought and imagina- 
tion of the Christian centuries has been reflected 
from his vision of the Kingdom of God. To think 
of his message as otherworldly in the sense that it 
emptied this world of all value is to miss its purpose 
altogether. But while he included all higher reality 
in his idea of the Kingdom he laid the chief stress 
on the moral demand. The reign of God as he 
conceived it was the fulfillment of the will of God. 
Love, justice, goodness are of God's very nature, and 
in the new world of the future, whatever may be 
its outward form, these things must be supreme. So 
for Jesus the Kingdom has always the two aspects. 
It is at once the higher, invisible order and the moral 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 81 

law in its perfect operation. The difficulty in our 
religion has always been to grasp these two ideas 
together. As a rule when they are combined at all 
the link between them is some arbitrary, artificial 
one. We think of Christianity as consisting, on the 
one hand, of certain ethical requirements, on the 
other, of certain beliefs about the unseen world. 
Why these two elements should be united we can- 
not say, and try to simplify our faith by leaving one 
or the other of them out of sight. But in the thought 
of Jesus they are fused together, so that we can 
hardly tell which of them he considers primary. We 
are to do God's will in order to have part in his 
Kingdom: we are to seek after the Kingdom that 
we may have power to do God's will. To many it 
has appeared as if the message of Jesus suffers from 
an inward contradiction, due to those inherited 
beliefs from which he started. He held to the apoc- 
alyptic hope of the new age: he also perceived the 
fundamental need for a changed will. Unconscious 
that these two things were different in their nature 
and could not be bound together, he insisted on 
both of them, with the result that his teaching, as 
soon as we examine it, falls apart. 
But it is evident that in his mind there was no 



82 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

sense of incongruity. He had apprehended the King- 
dom as one and the same in all its aspects. By doing 
the will of God men also find entrance into the 
higher world of unseen reality. 

(5) Entrance into the Kingdom 
The phrase "to enter the Kingdom" is always 
recurring in the Gospels, and it goes back, like so 
much else, to apocalyptic tradition. Af the end of 
the present age God is to hold a Judgment. Those 
who are found unworthy will be thrust aside, while 
those whom God approves will be admitted, as 
through a door, into the new life. But with Jesus 
this mode of thinking becomes little more than fig- 
urative. Since the Kingdom is not only future but 
has a real beginning in the present, men can enter 
it here and now. Most of Jesus' teaching revolves 
around the question, "How is this entrance pos- 
sible?" 

It belongs to the essence of the message that every- 
thing depends on one great decision. The one thing 
ijsqesssj&is JGQ surjreader one's self to the will of God, 
and all else will follow of its own accord. The will 
that has become one with God's will can henceforth 
be trusted to take the right path in all those moral 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 83 

complexities which had to be carefully mapped out 
under the old law. In many sayings Jesus dwells on 
the tremendous difficulty of that first step. "How 
hard it is to enter the Kingdom of God." "Strait is 
the gate and narrow the path that leadeth unto life." 
"Many are called and few chosen." In other sayings 
he declares that entrance is easy. All are invited and 
have only to come. When the prodigal returns to 
his father he is sure at once of a welcome. Nothing 
is required but to do one easy thing; yet this is pre- 
cisely the thing that men will not and cannot do. 
They are so entangled in old habits, so darkened by 
the deceptions of this world, that they cannot come 
out into the light. Here we are confronted, not with 
some peculiar contradiction in Jesus' teaching, but 
with the eternal paradox in religion that the easiest 

*ft&' . -.: *'."-',". V'' V '.^.'". <f .f ....... >,--,, ..... 

thing should also be the most difficult. 
Jesus dwells, therefore, on die conditions on which. 



the KingdonomLM^ first, which 

ftVL*,*****'* *** ^^^^^OT^^M-R 



includes* in itself all the others, 
This word was adopted from John the Baptist, who 
had himself taken it from the prophets; but into the 
old word Jesus put a new and far-reaching import. 
All that John had required was a mending of one's 
ways, by which rich men would become more gen- 



84 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

erous, tax-gatherers would deal justly, soldiers would 
refrain from robbery. Jesus demanded literally a 
"change of mind/' Men must adopt a new attitude 
to life and judge all things by new standards. Out- 
ward reform' means nothing, and is more rightly to 
be called "hypocrisy," unless it proceeds from this 
radical inward change. 

(2)' Repentance involves the child-like spirit; 
"unless ye repent and become like little children." 
It had already been recognized by Socrates and other 
sages that a man can know nothing until he is dearly 
aware of his ignorance. This, in part, was the mean- 
ing of Jesus, but his thought goes very much farther. 
He requires, for one thing, that men should free 
themselves of custom and prejudice, and look at the 
world with fresh eyes, as if they saw everything for 
the first time. Not only so, but they must have the 
open, receptive heart. All things that are worth 
having are given us by God, and we miss them by 
our pride and self-satisfaction. The Kingdom is 
given us, and we cannot have it unless we throw 
ourselves with an entire submissiveness on God. 

"Except a man receive the Kingdom as a little child 

,, , - **'> <-'v w, ",,* ,, ..,.,,,,,.,. ** 

he caqnot enter therein." 

f,, ,y . - " . 

(3)/Once more, and this also is another aspect of 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 85 

the great demand for repentance, we must be ready 
to surrender all earthly interests and possessions. 
Sometimes this requirement is pressed by Jesus in its 
literal form, but only on those whom he has called 
to his immediate service. It was far from his inten- 
tion to start a fanatical, mendicant movement which 
involved a complete separation from the world. 
Most of his followers, as we can gather from the 
Gospels, remained at their old occupations, and 
among them were people of some wealth, who were 
not called on to part with all that they possessed. 
Yet in its substance the demand was meant to be 
universal. Renunciation in some form must always 
be the very corner stone of such a life as Jesus 
required. Those only can share in the new order who 
have inwardly detached themselves from the old. 

Such are the conditions with which men must 
themselves comply, but the Kingdom is of God, and 
all that men can do is preliminary to God's own act. 
This is described by Jesus as ^J^g^s^ 

only can enter the Kingdom whose sins have b 

*-*iVLr M . . , ' ' ' ' * ' .' ' "',',.'' ,*.". u- - 

f i nr gCTfl Jby, .Jjp,^ We come here to a side of Jesus' 
teaching which is significant, perhaps, above all 
others. 
The conception of sin was peculiar to Hebrew reli- 



86 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

gion so much so that no word could be found in 
other languages to convey its full meaning. This 
was because the idea of God, in Hebrew religion, 
was inseparable from that of righteousness. That 
feeling of awe which elsewhere attached itself to holy 
places and objects was connected, for the Hebrew 
mind, with the moral law. Wrongdoing took on 
the character of a sacrilege, a direct offense against 
the holiness of God. Jesus inherited this conception. 
He thought of sin as an injury done not merely to 
one's self and one's neighbor but to God himself. In 
the last resort God is the one great creditor with 
whom man has to reckon. There can be no real 
acquittal until he has canceled the debt. 

According to the Law sin consisted in any breach 
of God's commandments, ritual as well as moral. 
Jesus laid the whole stress on moral offenses. "Not 
that which goeth in but that which cometh out 
defileth the man." Those only whose will has 
prompted them to evil deeds are properly to be 
accounted sinners. Not only so, but the true sins 
all spring from some want of love. The great attri- 
butes of God are love and mercy, and to show those 
qualities in your own life is to be like God; to act 
in the contrary spirit is to reject God. One of the 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 87 

most profound and daring o Jesus' sayings is that 
addressed to the repentant woman: "Her sins which 
are many are forgiven, because she loved much." 
When love is present you are essentially right with 
God; you have kept your reverence for what is, in 
the deepest sense, divine. Without love you may 
be morally blameless, and yet the one quality that 
matters is absent from your life. 

There is no trace in Jesus' teaching of any doctrine 
of original sin. He assumes that in everyone there 
is some natural good which may be touched and 
developed, and on this confidence he rests his whole 
appeal. Sin, as he regards it, proceeds not from a 
defect of nature but from a perversion of the will; 
this is what makes it sin. Yet he recognizes that all 
have yielded to the lower impulses and fallen away 
from God. Sin is inevitable in so far as men are 
born into the present age and are conformed, almost 
without their knowledge, to its modes of thought 
and action. All are in bondage to sin and must be 
delivered before they can enter into the Kingdom of 
God. 

The church has held ever since the time of Paul, 
and probably before him, that this deliverance was 
effected by the death of Christ. It is possible that he 



88 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

himself had applied to his coming death the proph- 
ecy of the Suffering Servant: "He was wounded for 
our transgressions, the Lord hath laid on him the 
iniquities of us all." He seems undoubtedly to have 
thought of his death as in some manner instrumental 
to the coming of the Kingdom, and may have ex- 
plained it, in the light of Old Testament prophecy, 
as the "ransom" which would set men free from the 
accumulated weight of sin. But in his teaching as 
we know it from the Gospels he thinks of sin as 
removed simply by forgiveness. God is infinitely 
gracious. He is like a generous king who out of 
sheer pity remits an enormous debt* He is like a 
father who runs to meet the returning prodigal. 
This willingness to forgive belongs to the very nature 
of God. 
At fhis, Poia^ however, we come on one of the 

cr_." ,....-,- 

most characteristic and far-reaching of the ideas of 
Jesus. God 'Will forgive sins, but only when men 
forgive each other. This thought is embodied in a 
number of striking utterances, and most notably in 
the Lord's Prayer. The other petitions are uncondi- 
tional; all men have the right to ask for daily bread, 
protection, guidance. But in asking God for forgive- 
ness you must be able to assure him that you have 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 89 

forgiven, or in that moment forgive/ your offending 
neighbor. What is the meaning of this insistence 
that those only who forgive will be forgiven? 

It might seem at first as if God's forgiveness is 
a return for what we do ourselves; but this would 
be contrary to Jesus' whole thought of the gracious 
God, who bestows on us all that is best without our 
deserving. The idea implied is rather that the act 
of forgiving carries with it the divine forgiveness. 
God is willing to forgive, but we are kept apart from 
him by the loveless spirit in ourselves. We have 
nothing in common with God and he cannot 
approach us or help us. As soon as we exercise love 
in our own lives we participate in the forgiving will 
of God. In the doing of an unselfish deed there is 
always a glow o satisfaction, a sense of being liber- 
ated- Martyrs and patriots have sacrificed their lives 
with joy, assured that in giving they have received 
something priceless for themselves. Jesus would say 
that what they receive is God's forgiveness. It is not 
granted by way of reward for a good action, but is 
itself part of the action. Breaking with your own 
egoism you have made your will one with God's 

5 In Matthew's version of the prayer the past is used ("have 
forgiven"): & Luke's, the present ("forgive"). 



90 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

will and his love, to which your heart was closed, 
takes full possession of you. 

Thus it might almost be said that to exercise for- 
giveness is for Jesus the way of salvation. You must 
be forgiven by God before you can enter the King- 
dom, and his forgiveness comes through your forgiv- 
ing your fellow men. It seems a different gospel 
from that of Paul, but there is no real contradiction. 
For the will to forgive, so contrary to our own 
impulse, must be wakened in us by God; this the 
truth implicit in all the teaching of Jesus. Paul 
would say that the divine power which thus renews 
our will is given in the Cross. "Forgiving one 
another, as God through Christ has forgiven you/' * 
In these words of Paul we have the other side of 
the petition in the Lord's Prayer. God forgives us 
as we forgive each other, and we are enabled thus 
to forgive by the knowledge of God's forgiveness, 

(6) The Kingdom and the Inward Life 
In teaching the conditions for entrance into the 
Kingdom Jesus falls back on apocalyptic ideas. This 
mode of thought was not merely figurative. He con- 
ceives of a higher order from which we are divided 

' Eph. 4:32, 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 91 

as by a barrier. The way by which we pass out of 
the earthly sphere into the heavenly one is that of 
repentance and renunciation and forgiveness of sins. 
Yet it is evident that these conditions do not merely 
secure some future good in a world entirely different 
from that which now is. Those whom God has for- 
given and who wait on him with a child-like heart 
have secured some present good. The idea of a 
new order is blended with that of an inward dis- 
position, and is hardly to be distinguished from it. 
A political thinker conceives of a state of govern- 
ment under which men will be free, and tries to 
forecast it, and confidently believes that some day 
it will come into being. Yet he is well aware that 
there is no need for waiting until that day arrives. 
If they will, men can be free already by following 
the light of their own reason and conscience. The 
one purpose of the future society is to realize in 
visible institutions this inward freedom. So for Jesus 
the age that is coming cannot be separated from the 
new life which begins now. In the last resort he is 
more concerned with this inward transformation 
than with the Kingdom itself. 

We shall see that in the later development of his 
message the main emphasis was thrown on the 



92 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

renewal of man's spiritual nature. The Fourth evan- 
gelist no longer speaks of the Kingdom of God but 
only of eternal life. The chief aim of the believer 
is for him the attainment of this higher life, which 
dwells in Christ's people as a present possession. 
When we look more closely into the Synoptic teach- 
ing we can see that the later interpretation had a 
real ground in Jesus' own thought. 

Even in the traditional Jewish conception the King- 
dom was associated with life. It was the age in 
which God would reign, and for Hebrew religion 
God was emphatically the living God. All who 
belonged to him or came within the circle of his 
presence shared in his life. This idea is finely brought 
out in a passage of the Wisdom of Solomon. "For 
God made not death, neither delighteth he when the 
wicked perish. For he made all things that they 
might have being, and the creative powers of the 
world are health-giving, and there is no poison of 
destruction in them. Hades has no dominion upon 
earth." T This triumphant faith that since God is 
the living One, life is the primary law of his world 
found its complete expression in the hope of the 
Kingdom. In that coming age when God alone is 

'Sapientia, 1:13, 14, 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 93 

King there will be fullness of life. Those who inherit 
the Kingdom will be set free from sorrow and dis- 
ease and oppression, from all that now weighs on 
our life and confines it. They will be like plants 
restored to their native soil and climate subject no 
more to the influences that have starved and shriv- 
eled them. In communion with the living God they 
will live. Jesus took up this conception inherent in 
the hope of the Kingdom and gave it new depth and 
import. A number of passages might be collected 
in which he makes "life," the supreme blessing of 
the Kingdom, a synonym for the Kingdom itself 
("to enter into life," "this do and thou shalt live/' 
"strait is the way that leads to life") . This was in 
keeping with the ordinary Jewish usage; but for 
traditional thought the coming life was little more 
than the present one, set free from its troubles and 
limitations. Jesus perceived that it must be another 
kind of life. In that new age men would be different 
in their moral being; their motives and desires would 
be changed; they would stand in a new relation to 
each other and to God. They may enter in the pres- 
ent on this higher life, and unless they have done 
so they can have little hope from the future. Those 
who have no part in the enduring spiritual inter- 



94 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

ests are dead. Like the rich fool they possess nothing 
except in this passing world and go forth empty 
when their souls are required of them. Those who 
seek the will o God are alive already with the life 
of the Kingdom. 

In one place Jesus is made to declare in so many 
words, 'The Kingdom of God is within you." 8 It 
would appear from the context as if the words should 
more properly be rendered "among you/' Jesus is 
telling how the Kingdom will come suddenly and is 
already imminent. Men will be anxiously looking 
for it, doubtful if it will ever come, when lo, it is 
right in the midst of them. The other meaning, how- 
ever, is not at all impossible. Approaches to it may 
be found even in the Rabbinical teaching, and it 
does not necessarily reflect a later mystical idea out- 
side of the horizon of Jesus. He may well have 
declared that a man may enjoy in his own heart 
that life of the Kingdom which will be vouchsafed 
hereafter. The Kingdom is not a condition outside 
of us, into which we shall some day be transported, 
but exists within. 

This sense of the inwardness of the Kingdom is 
not to be sought merely in explicit sayings. The 

8 Lk. 17:21. 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 95 

conviction is always present with Jesus, and may be 
dearly discerned underneath all his teaching, that 
the true joy of the Kingdom will consist in fellow- 
ship with God. Amidst the darkness and difficulty 
of this world God seems distant and forgetful, and 
we find it hard to trust him, and can only offer him 
an imperf ect service. In the Kingdom we shall fully 
know him as Father; the will that is in us will be 
entirely one with the divine will; in this fellow- 
ship with God we shall find true life. The teaching 
is all inspired with the confidence that for this new 
condition of soul we do not need to wait for an 
indefinite future. We can live now as God's chil- 
dren. We can make the purpose of God our own. 
In this world of change and illusion we can have 
communion with the eternal God. Jesus does -not 
conceive of the new life in the manner of Paul and 
John as springing out of a mystical indwelling of 
the divine nature. He remains faithful to that belief 
in the separateness of God and man which he had 
inherited from Hebrew religion. Yet in the last 
resort he has broken with the apocalyptic view and 
understands the Kingdom as a fact of the inward 
life. It consists in that fellowship with God which 
is the same now as it will be hereafter. 



96 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

(7) The Kingdom and the New Righteousness 
It is in. this light that we must explain the ethical 
teaching. By far the greatest number of sayings are 
concerned with moral duties; and for many readers 
of the Gospels this has been a stumblingblock. They 
know of Jesus as the supreme religious teacher, but 
when they examine what he actually taught they 
seem to find nothing but a series of maxims on the 
right conduct of life. The maxims, no doubt, are 
true and beautiful, but what have they to do with 
religion? To some it has even appeared as if Jesus 
\tfere impatient with religion as commonly under- 
stood. He saw his countrymen occupied with wor- 
ship and ceremonial, intent on fostering a mere devo- 
tional piety, and all this impressed him as futile. 
He declared that the one thing that mattered was 
right living The Samaritan or publican who did 
some practical deed of kindness was a better man 
than tie priest or PhaHsee'who spent his whole life 
in, so-called reliipy service. Many have here dis- 
covered the real purpose of the work of Jesus, which 
the church, almost from the beginning, has sedu- 
lously tried to conceal. He aimed at delivering men 
not merely from the burSen of the Law but from 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 97 

religion itself. He substituted for it a practical etbic, 
a social program. He recognized as his true disciples 
those who behave justly in all the business of life 
and promote the welfare of their neighbors. The 
more they do so out of pure uprightness and love, 
without any fanciful religious motives, the more 
they are faithful to the essential spirit of Jesus. 

Now it is indeed true that he laid all the stress 
on action, and denied the worth of any belief or 
sentiment which did not have its outcome in action. 
This, however, is no reason for concluding that his 
place is among the great ethical teachers. It is not 
only men of religion who are prone to substitute 
theory for practice. Possibly it might be found that 
moral censors and agitators for social justice have 
been far more guilty of that hypocrisy which Jesus 
denounced. His aim was not to put an ethical creed 
in place of a reUJ^ou^o^^ 

in whatever manner they professed to serve God 
men should be utterly sincere. He attacked the 

f ' ',' ' ' '" " - s '.' '-"',., t -, ,.. **'.. *"""'<" ' 

Pharisees not because they were religious instead of 
moral, but because they made so much of morality 
and failed to live up to their pretensions. All their 
passion for justice and mercy resulted in nothing 
but empty words. For that part, it was unnecessary 



98 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

for Jesus to come forward with an ethical gospel. 
In the religion of the time there was enough and to 
spare of moral sentiment, and countless excellent 
maxims have been culled from the Rabbinical teach- 
ing. The ?im of Jesus was to transform sentiments 
into dee3s. He set himself not so much to formulate 
a new ethic as to supply the power whereby men 
should act on what they already knew. The Sermpn 
on the Mount is usually interpreted as a new exposi- 
tion of moral duties, but the real purport of it is 
contained in the closing passage: "Whosoever hear- 
eth these words of mine and doeth them." 

Why does Jesus lay this dfiipfiasis on action? It 
is here that we discern the essentially religious qual- 
ity of his teaching. He does not reduce religion to 
morality, but finds in moral action the true path to 
that fellowship with God which is the aim of all 
religion. For the mystic, God is the absolute being 
behind all phenomena, and the way to meet him is 
to withdraw from the world of sense into the inner 
sanctuary of the soul. For the philosopher, God is 
the eternal mind, and to elevate our own reason so 
that we "think his thoughts after him" is to com- 
mune with God. Jesus conceived of God as the 
supreme will, which is forever working toward love 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 99 

and righteousness. To commune with him is to par- 
ticipate in his will. It is not enough to have the mys- 
tical or philosophical knowledge of God. Fellowship 
with hfm can consist in nothing else than in doing 
his will. We become "children of God," we share 
in his essential nature, according as we act in our 
small sphere as he acts continually in his universe. 

Closely connected with this demand for an active 
goodness is the other demand that all action must 
come from within. Under the old law it was the 
act alone that counted, but for Jesus the worth of 
the act is measured by the motive. JDii&Jadeed, is. 
the essential part of the act. which by itself may sig- 

* f ^,* ,,j. !>,' ',n*.4a* ,.,' ' If "Jfcih'rt . * i Jt, I, , , t , j J^ ^ , 43 

nify nothing pr may be a mere cloak for evil. It is 
here that Jesus made his grand innovation on all 
previous systems of ethic. In Judaism the legal idea 
had been worked out most fully, but all religions 
had based their moral demands on a similar prin- 
ciple. Certain modes of action were required of 
men by sacred custom or by the supposed command 
of a divinity. This divine law, like the human one, 
took account only of overt acts; a man's inward senti- 
ments were his own concern, but he must answer 
to the higher powers for the things he did. With 
Jesus this rule was reversed. The will is that which 



100 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

matters, and of which alone God makes a reckoning. 
It must be an active will, for otherwise it has no 
reality. But the action is of value only as it expresses 
the will, and even if it is faulty or mistaken it keeps 
its value when the right will is behind it. On the 
ground of this principle Jesus virtually abrogates the 
law. It is no longer necessary since its place is taken 
by the will. As a good tree produces good fruit so a 
right will has its spontaneous outcome in all right 
action. Indeed Jesus holds that the highest kind of 
goodness is unconscious. The right hand must not 
know what the left is doing. The servants of God, 
will be surprised at the last Judgment when they 
find themselves accepted. Because the righteousness 
of the Pharisees is calculated, not the free outcome 
of a nature which cannot but flow forth in loving 
deeds, it is worthless. * 

Here, then, we can discern the purely religious 
character of Jesus' ethic. It is inseparable from the 
inward life, and in the last resort is nothing else 
than that life in its manifestation. Although his 
teaching for the most part is directed to right con- 
duct Jesus is not occupied with morality but with the 

/ 

inward fellowship with God. We must not be 
deceived by the mere form of his precepts. Since his 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 101 

demand is for active goodness he speaks definitely 
of what men must do; but his interest is much less 
in actions than in the will out of which they proceed. 
By acting like God men enter into fellowship with 
God, and this fellowship is the great end of life. 
Right actipn has value only as it serves as a means 
to that end. So instead of substituting morality for 
religion Jesus makes religion everything. "That ye 
may become children of your Father who is in 
heaven:" this is the one end and motive of all right 
living. - 

From this point of view we must understand the 
relation between the ethical teaching and the idea 
of the Kingdom. At first sight they may seem to 
have nothing but a formal, accidental connection. 
Jesus was inspired with hppe for the Kingdom, he 
was also filled with a passion for righteousness; and 
"tEe two things became entangled in his mind. Or, 
according to another theory, his ethic was meant to 
have only an interim value. When the Kingdom 
came there would be no temptation, no poverty, no 
offenses, and the precepts laid down by Jesus would 
cease to be necessary. But what of the crucial inter- 
val when men were preparing themselves for the 
Kingdom? The ethical teaching, with its rigorous 



102 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

demands, was like a code of war-time measures, 
enacted only for the period of stress. Or Jesus' ethic 
had no other purpose than that of John the Baptist. 
John looked for a Judgment in which only the 
righteous would find acceptance with God, and 
taught men how to order their lives for this coming 
trial. Jesus required a loftier kind of righteousness, 
but it was related in just the same way to his message 
of the Kingdom. 

Such theories, however, all miss the real. drift and 
compass of the ethical teaching. There is no thought 
in Jesus' mind of a morality which will only hold 
good for a brief interval or for a special purpose. 
The particular acts of which he speaks may imply 
such conditions as we know now, but the motives 

V<* ",'.- ; 1Jflp v^;, ,,,,<*,? v . 

behind them love, faithfulness, goodness ^^;jn 
their nature everlasting. They are not of those things 
which will vanish away in the new age but of those 
which will fully come. They constitute the very 
meaning of the Kingdom, and Jesus taught them 
that we may possess it now, amidst all the imperfec- 
tions of this world. 

But the relation of the ethical teaching to the 
hope of the Kingdom is still closer. The moral life 
as Jesus conceives it does not consist merely in obedi- 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 103 

ence to certain principles. It cannot even be reduced 
to the one principle of love. No doubt the idea of 
love is primary with Jesus and may be made, in some 
sense, to include everything. Yet what Jesus calls 
for is not some one quality, even the highest, but 
the new will in which all impulses work together in 
complete harmony. Our will is to be no other than 

r , ,.,,',' * ' ' ' ' ' ' 

the will of God. So the moral life, in the full sig- 
nificance which Jesus gave to it, is the life of the 
Kingdom. That new order which will be established 
in the future will make it possible for men to live 
entirely for God. But even now we may submit to 
God's will and so hold fellowship with him. "The 
Kingdom of God is within you/' In so^far as you 
have in you the new will, issuing in such a life as 
Jesus requires* you, possess the Kingdom. 

(8) The Kingdom and Human Society 
The moral demand, as it meets us in the Gospels, 
has always a social as well as an individual aspect. 
"Thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart and 
mind and strength, and thy neighbour as thyself." 
Most of the sayings which have been preserved to 
us have this twofold bearing. The hope for the 
Kingdom involves a new social ideal. 



104 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

In our time this aspect of the message has come 
into special prominence. Our most urgent problems 
are those which concern the obligations of man to 
man and the intercourse of races and classes with 
one another. In the effort to solve these problems 
we have been driven back.to the principles laid down 
by Jesus, and have learned to study them with a 
new earnestness and understanding. The view has 
become widely current that he was above all a social 
reformer, and that the church's interpretation of his 
message has been willfully mistaken. He thought 
of .the Kingdom not in its relation to tKe inward life 
but a$ the perfected society of the future. He looked 
forward to a time when all men would be united 
in a single brotherhood, when possessions would be 
justly distributed, when the self-seeking motive 
would disappear from the civic and industrial life. 
Jesus is classed with the reformers who have sought 
from time to time to build up society on a new 
basis. It was his hope for a better world in the future 

V 'I .-.,."*"' ; ' ' ' 

which he summed up in his great conception of the 
Kingdom olGod. 

Now in this view of the teaching there is doubt- 
less a measure of truth. The idea of a community is 
involved in the very term "Kingdom of*G63u * It is 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 105 

impossible to conceive of God reigning without at 
the same time assuming a people over whom he 
reigns. King and community are correlative words. 
It is highly significant in this coiinecrion that Jesus 
deliberately chose the phrase "Kingdom of God." 
There were many alternative names under which he- 
might have described the future, "the new age," 
"eternal life/' "the world to come" and it was sucifc 
other terms which had appealed to the apocalyptic 
writers. But Jesus speaks, almost invariably, of the' 
Kingdom of God. He cannot have been insensible 
to the communal suggestion of this term, which had 
originated in the belief that God was King of Israel 
and continued to imply that God would finally reign 
over an elect people. Indeed it seems evident from 
the whole Gospel narrative that one of the primary 
aims of Jesus was to form a community of those who 
should inherit the Kingdom. His first act when he 
commenced his ministry in Galilee was to gather 
around him a body of disciples, and this small com- 
pany was meant to be the nucleus of a greater one. 
When the Kingdom came there was to be a com- 
munity prepared to enter it. 

It is quite evident, too, that the whole drift of his 
teaching is social. On the purely self-regarding vir- 



106 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

tues he has surprisingly little to say. He thinks of 
men always in relation to their fellow men. The 
qualities on which he lays stress love, mercy, justice, 
forgiveness are all those which find their exercise 
in the common life. Ever and again in the course of 
Christian history the attempt has been made to carry 
out the demands of Jesus in retirement from the 
world. Such efforts have always failed, and even the 
monastic ideal was found to be impracticable with- 
out a society of monks. The Christian life, by its 
very nature, can only be lived in constant relation to 
others, and the more varied the relations the more 
truly it can fulfill the law of Christ. So when he 
spoke of the Kingdom which would come hereafter, 
in which the will of God would absolutely prevail, 
he must have had in mind a great brotherhood for 
only on this condition could the will of God be done. 
That his message did involve the communal idea 
hardly requires to be proved, for it had its historical 
outcome in the Church. The hope for the Kingdom 
embodied itself, by an inevitable process, in the 
Christian society. 

There is truth, then, in the contention that Jesus' 
aim was social, and the modern emphasis on this side 
of his thought has been salutary and needful. Some 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 107 

of the most important elements in our religion were 
obscured by the old conception that it had to do only 
with individual piety. Nevertheless it is impossible 
to accept the view that the primary interest of Jesus 
was in the communal life. He has nothing to say 
that bears directly on social or economic or political 
reforms. He does not look at men in the mass but 
at men as personal beings. This, indeed, is one of 
the new and distinctive aspects of his teaching. It is 
strangely assumed in much of our modern literature 
that we have outgrown the narrow individualism of 
ancient times and have learned to think socially, in 
terms of classes, nations, humanity as a whole. Jesus, 
we are told, was deficient in that larger outlook, and 
was interested only in the "neighbor" with whom 
we come into personal contact. But the truth is that 
he deliberately substituted his mode of thought for 
the other. The view which we regard as modern was 
the ancient one. It had always been the nation or 
the city or the social class which was taken as the 
unit. The individual had value only as a member of 
the greater whole, and it was Israel or Athens or 
Rome which was the object of divine favor. Jesus 
discovered the worth of men as personalities. He 

- .%..,.' -,,,, ^w^MW^f^'^^V^^ '* f t*r',~i I***** 

was the first to l^gULttsayJa^ com 



108 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

munity, and to declare that every human being for 
his own sake was tinder the care of God. It is im- 
plicit in his teaching that all thought of men in the 
aggregate is due to an illusion. There is no such 
thing as "humanity" but only a multitude of separate 
human souls. 

It is indeed true that Jesus has wrought a revolu- 
tion in the social life, but he has done so precisely 
because he looked to the individual He insisted that 
respect must be paid to personality, that even the 
poorest has his rights, that outward conditions must 
be such as to allow full development to every life. 
All progress for the last two thousand years has 
been determined by the gradual application of these 
principles of Jesus to all social institutions. The re- 
sult has been the breaking down of ancient privileges 
and restrictions, and the advance toward modem 
democracy. But it is dangerous to identify Jesus with 
any political system, democratic or otherwise. All 
that can be deduced from his teaching is that society 
should be so organized as to serve the higher welfare 
of all its members. As he has been the strongest 
force in creating the new forms of communal life he 
may some day destroy them. The temptation is al- 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 109 

ways to sacrifice the individual for the supposed good 
of the mass, and to every system in which this is 
done the Christian spirit is hostile. It was the per- 
sonal life which Jesus sought to liberate, and wher- 
ever the community becomes an end in itself it will 
finally make shipwreck on the principles he laid 
down. 

His primary interest was not in society but in the 
individual; but he recognized that man unfolds his 
personality through relation to his fellow men. The 
more your life is one of service to others die more 
you become yourself. We have thus the paradox that 
because Jesus was so profoundly concerned with the 
inward personal life his teaching is everywhere social. 
The Kingdom is within, but everything that makes 
for a fuller sympathy with our fellows helps also 
toward a deeper union with the divine will. 

It is from this point of view, then, that we must 
explain the social interest which is so conspicuous in 
the thought of Jesus. That he had nothing in his 
mind but a world-brotherhood, a society perfectly 
organized and based on just principles, cannot for a 
moment be admitted. It is quite conceivable that 
such a society may some day be realized. Already to 



110 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

some extent it is emerging, and in a century or two 
we may fairly anticipate that war will have ceased, 
that the world's goods will be equably divided, that 
all races will be finnly knit together. The religion 
of Christ is pointing us toward these ends, and is 
helping us to attain them. But when they are at- 
tained shall we be able to say that the Kingdom of 
God is now come? The question is partly answered 
when we consider the advance we have ourselves 
made. If the most ardent reformer a few centuries 
ago could have foreseen the present day our wealth 
of knowledge, our larger liberties, the humaner spirit 
in our industries, the movements toward peace and 
racial understanding he would have judged that the 
Kingdom of God must be almost come. We are our- 
selves bitterly conscious that it is as far distant as 
ever. Ages hence, when the loftiest dreams of to-day 
are realized, there will be the same sense of disillu- 
sionment. The perfecting of society is only a means 
to an end, and unless it serves that end it is meaning- 
less. When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom he was not 
thinking of any outward conditions but of a spiritual 
fulfillment. The Kingdom will not come until men 
attain in their inward life to a true^fellowship with 
God. ' " " " ' 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 111 

(9) Jesus' Conception of the Kingdom 
We are now in a position to attempt some answer 
to the question, "What did Jesus mean by the King- 
dom of God?" He never defined it, and no single 
definition can be deduced from his words. The con- 
ception is a many-sided one, and all its aspects need 
to be taken together. This is the chief difficulty in 
understanding it that while it implies many differ- 
ent things they all mean ultimately the same thing. 
It can only be grasped by noting separately all its 
manifold sides, and yet when we so try to grasp it 
we .miss the inner reality. 

\(l))ln the first place, Jesus took over the Jewish- 
apocalyptic hope of a new age coming, when God 
would overthrow all usurping powers and assert his 
rule over the world. This hope of a glorious future 
was real to Jesus, and he believed that it was soon to 
be fulfilled. It enabled him to visualize the Kingdom, 
and his thought is everywhere conditioned by it. Yet 
to explain his message wholly by this hope which pro- 
vided its framework is to leave out everything that 
is essential. 

(2) Again, the Kingdom stands for the higher 
spiritual order which lies behind the visible world 



112 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

and gives it meaning. A consummation is to come in 
which it will be fully manifest; but God is reigning 
now, and in the light of that day when he will vis- 
ibly reign we can discern that higher order in which, 
as his children, we can already have our part. We 
can trust in his providence; we can live for the ever- 
lasting things; we can reach out through all appear- 
ances to that which lies beyond, and which alone is 
real. 

>(3) I?ut while the Kingdom includes all higher 
reality it Stands more especially for the moral order. 
It means the perfect fulfillment of that will of God 
which under earthly conditions can only be dimly 
apprehended. As yet our obedience to it is a com- 
promise with custom, tradition, considerations of 
worldly prudence. A day is coining when it will be 
fully manifest and will assert itself as the sole law. 
In the hope of the coming age we can lay hold of the 
moral ideal, bringing all our action to the test of 
what God requires. It is for this reason that the 
teaching of Jesus is prevailingly ethical. Morality is 
not an end in itself, but since the Kingdom is above 
all the moral order it is through moral action that 
we must strive to possess it. 

Kitvgdfltn is realized in the inward life? 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 113 

of fellowship with God. la the age that is coming 
men will know God as Father and dwell in his 
presence. This communion with God will constitute 
the life which will be the supreme blessing of the 
Kingdom. But even now men can know that presence 
of God. According as they know it they share in the 
life of the Kingdom, they already obtain the King- 
dom. Here we discern the true significance of the 
ethic of Jesus. He thinks of all right action as spring- 
ing out of the inward life and at the same time as 
fostering and unfolding it. The action does not exist 
for itself but is the means whereby we attain to fel- 
lowship with God. 

(5) The Kingdom implies a community of God's 
people and is thus a social as well as a moral and 
Spiritual ideal. All endeavor for the betterment of 
the world is in true accordance with the teaching of 
Jesus; yet the social purpose was not his primary one. 
He sought to create a new inward life, and his inter- 
est in the community was all for the sake of it. If he 
has done more than any other for the transforming 
of all institutions it is not because he dealt with them 
directly, which he never did. By changing the wills 
of men he compelled a change in all human relations. 
By throwing all emphasis on spiritual things he 



114 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

brought about a new attitude to the material side of 
life. Perhaps it is here that we are to find in his 
teaching the true solution of those social and politi- 
cal problems which confront us at the present time. 
The root of our trouble is that men are all struggling 
for the material things, and these are limited in quan- 
tity, and one man's possession of them excludes his 
neighbor's. So long as these things only are desired 
there will be strife and injustice, and no scheme that 
can possibly be devised on the ground of a material 
view of life will do anything to help us. No peace 
jean come until men recognize \yith Jesus v tfarthe 

, ., IH , . *~* '' " "' r , i ,, -* k Mftf* 

i I,N> i < / fili ^^^ it Jt , ff,.m )tn . lj n il .t'J*'* 

jSgal ends are spiritual. All men can share in love, 

- - -* --*^^aiv v ^ *~**> *#>***.<.*< . ^.^ . 

truth, goodness, wisdom. The riches or them are in- 
exhaustible. IftSTmore that each man can increase 
his store of them the more there will be for all the 
others. This is the true contribution of Jesus toward 
the building up of the perf ect human society, and it 
cannot be dismissed as abstract and visionary. All 
progress has consisted in a growing perception of the 
worth of spiritual things. The very increase of mate- 
rial wealth has brought to light, ever more clearly, 
its intrinsic emptiness. The abundance of our out- 
ward possessions has left us more and more dissatis- 
fied, and has done almost nothing for the true pur- 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 115 

poses of life. May we not dare to hope that the idea 
of Jesus, which has seemed hitherto a mere counsel 
of perfection, will some day be accepted as a practi- 
cal motive? Only then will human society begin in 
any way to reflect that new community which is to 
inherit the Kingdom of God. 

(10) The Value of the Apocalyptic Forms 
The message of Jesus was a many-sided one, and 
all its meanings were involved in that conception 
which was given htm in Jewish apocalyptic. It has 
often been argued that this origin of the message 
affects its whole validity. The hope of the Kingdom, 
as we now see it, had arisen out of the peculiar his- 
tory of the Jewish people, and reflects ideas which 
have been long outgrown. We cannot now believe 
that God is suddenly to change the world's order, 
and since Jesus rested his teaching on that illusion 
must it not follow that the whole structure falls to 
the ground? Those sayings about God and his pur- 
pose which seem to breathe the timeless spirit -of 
religion are after all bound up with ancient imagina- 
tions which are now meaningless. To this it may be 
answered that the essential message of Jesus does not 
depend on the particular forms in which he expressed 



116 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

it. Just as his words can be translated out of the 
language in which they were uttered, so they can be 
detached from the apocalyptic hopes which were like 
the mother tongue of his thought. This, as we shall 
see later, was the task to which the church set itself 
as soon as it found a footing in the Gentile world; 
and it is still engaged in that never-ending effort to 
interpret in new terms what Jesus meant. By means 
of the old apocalyptic he taught a message of endur- 
ing value. 

At the same time the forms themselves must not 
be treated as a mere husk which may now be thrown 
away. Nothing is more remarkable than the hold 
they have always maintained on the Christian mind. 
Since the days of Paul there have been hundreds of 
theological systems in which the thought of Jesus 
has been embodied more adequately, it might seem, 
than in his own apocalyptic. One after another they 
have lost their vitality, and it will be the same, we 
may be sure, with the new formulations of the gospel 
to-day. For the great mass of Christian people the 
original idea of the Kingdom is still real. They look 
for a day when God will judge the earth, when he 
will make all things new, when he will gather his 
people into a heavenly compumity. The reason why 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 117 

these beliefs have persisted is not merely that they 
are found in the Bible, or that they were absorbed 
without thinking in early childhood. Their strength 
is due to their inherent religious value. They answer, 
for one thing, to the inborn feeling that there is 
something beyond the natural order. In spite of all 
scientific theory men cannot but believe that the uni- 
verse is more than a network of iron law, and so long 
as this faith survives they will find meaning in the 
ancient hope that God will interpose and establish 
his Kingdom. It is easy to make light of those mil- 
lennarian outbursts which in our day chiefly affect 
the very ignorant; yet in their crude fashion they 
represent a protest, which is always needed, against 
the purely mechanical view of the world Again, 
there is truth in the apocalyptic idea that God will 
fulfill his purpose through sudden crisis. Too often, 
in our modern obsession with evolutionary doctrine, 
we think of the world as continually improving by a 
gradual, automatic process. Many people, we are 
told, lost their religious faith in consequence of the 
great war. Their God was one whose sole function 
was to watch a well-regulated machine, and when it 
broke down, when the onward march was suddenly 
halted, he seemed to vanish. One value of apocalyp- 



118 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

tic has always been that it makes room in the scheme 
of things for apparent catastrophe. Not only through 
ordered progress but sometimes through the incal- 
culable, God is working toward his Kingdom. 

Apocalyptic, moreover, presents the future and 
unseen in terms of the imagination. That is why we 
always fall back on Jesus* own conception. It is often 
argued that his teaching should be lifted entirely out 
of the old forms and set forth in ethical or philo- 
sophical language; and this is what the church has 
been trying to do since the beginning. But nothing 
is more evanescent than abstract statements of reli- 
gious truth. They serve for one age but the next has 
moved on to some new philosophy and the previous 
formulations are worthless. It is one source of 
strength in Jesus' religion that he did not employ 
any science or metaphysic but expressed his meaning 
in those apocalyptic symbols. His account of the 
Kingdom has the advantage which poetry always has 
over literal statement. It makes appeal not to modes 
of reasoning which are only for a time but to pri- 
mary instincts which never change. To this day we 
are compelled to think of the Kingdom as Jesus did 
when we try to give satisfying expression to our 
Christian f aitL 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 119 

(11) Jesus' Relation to the Kingdom 
We have now considered in its various aspects the 
meaning of that message which Jesus proclaimed. 
One question remains which lies outside of our im- 
mediate inquiry but which bears on it so closely that 
it cannot be left wholly unanswered. In what relation 

4 ffyr<" -"ijf .,, f ^ , wtf^fsr, 

did Jesus himself stand to the Kingdom? The church 
acclaimed him as the Messiah, through whom, ac- 
cording to prophecy, the Kingdom would come in; 
and this became the distinctive belief of Christianity. 
The message of the Kingdom was blended with the 
message about Jesus himself, and was in some meas- 
ure overshadowed by it. Faith in the gospel meant 
faith in Jesus as the Messiah. 

It has been maintained by some modern writers 
that Jesus advanced no personal claim. He came for- 
ward as the prophet or herald of the Kingdom, and 
it was his followers who after his death conferred on 
him the name of Messiah. When once this concep- 
tion of him had been established a ground was 
sought for it in his own teaching. The earliest tradi- 
tion, as preserved in Mark's Gospel, admits that he 
never publicly announced himself and only made the 
claim among his own disciples and toward the very 



120 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

close of his life. According to the later Synoptic 
writers his work from the outset bore a Messianic 
character. In the Fourth Gospel everything is made 
to turn on the personal claim, which is now under- 
stood in the sense that as Messiah he was the eternal 
Word, one with God from the beginning. 

Now it may be held that this question of the 
Messiahship is of purely historical interest. Those 
who deny that Jesus ever made the claim are usually 
careful to point out that no religious issue is at stake. 
Even although Jesus never professed to be more 
than prophet or teacher his gospel would have the 
same value, or perhaps a higher one, since it would 
be freed from its old apocalyptic wrappings. The 
controversy as to whether Jesus was the Messiah was 
a fight over shadows. The Messiah was an imaginary 
figure. He belonged to the realm of mythology just 
as much as Hercules or Apollo. It is hardly worth 
discussing seriously whether Jesus is to be identified 
with a non-existent being. 

Yet there can be no doubt that an issue of supreme 
importance hangs on the question of the Messiahship 
of Jesus. That the figure of the Messiah was a crea- 
tion of apocalyptic fancy may be granted. But the 
place assigned to him in the traditional scheme was 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 121 

that of bringing in the Kingdom, and if Jesus called 
himself Messiah he must have meant that he was not 
merely the herald of the Kingdom but the instru- 
ment under God through whom it would be realized. 
This is the real issue, and our whole understanding 
of Jesus' mission clearly depends on it. Did he be- 
lieve that he was himself, in some manner, necessary 
to the fulfillment of the Kingdom? The question 
affects not only his personal history but the substance 
of his message. 

That Jesus did indeed regard himself as Messiah 
it is only a perverted critical ingenuity than can deny. 
The precise time and manner in which he made the 
daim may be disputed, and the records are admit- 
tedly vague. But it may be confidently affirmed that 
if they had been altogether silent on the claim we 
should have found it necessary to assume that he 
made it. We should have felt that a f actor was miss- 
ing without which the whole story was unintelli- 
gible. Why did Jesus go up to Jerusalem? Why 
was he put to death? HOW did he awaken that pas- 
sionate faith and loyalty which gave rise to the Chris- 
tian church? 

That he made some unique daim is evident not 
only from the history but from the whole character 



122 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

of his work He does not speak of the Kingdom 
merely as a prophet who rejoices in the hope of it. 
Everywhere he assumes that he himself has a pecu- 
liar relation to the Kingdom. Men were impressed in 
his lifetime by the authority with which he spoke, and 
which still impresses us as we read the sayings. He 
takes for granted that he bears a divine commission 
and that his word is final. It is true that he does not 
assert this, in the manner of the Fourth Gospel, by 
insisting on his Messiahship; but the note of author- 
ity is all the more significant because it is unconscious. 
The conviction that he speaks for God is with him 
always, as part of his very being. Again, he assumes 
the right to admit men into the Kingdom; he offers 
forgiveness of sins; he .believes that the powers of 
the future are active in him, so that he can perform 
miracles. Whatever we make of these miracles it is 
certain that he was regarded as a wonder-worker, and 
that he himself never doubted his extraordinary gift. 
To be sure he founds no daim on this gift, and 
declares that his disciples also, if they have faith, 
may perform miracles. None the less he is conscious 
that these marvelous powers, which have projected 
themselves out of the age to come into the present, 
have first become manifest in himself. It is through 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 123 

htm that the Kingdom has been brought so near. Once 
more, he is aware that the nature of the Kingdom 
is revealed to him as to no other. He can speak with 
direct knowledge of that will of God which will pre- 
vail hereafter. There may be dispute as to the f amous 
saying, "No man knoweth the Father but the Son," * 
and in the words as recorded there is undoubtedly 
a suggestion of later theological thought. But the 
idea conveyed by them is not to be sought merely in 
one isolated and dubious saying, but underlies the 
teaching everywhere. Jesus was conscious that in 
some unique way he represented the Kingdom. 

Here, then, we can perceive the true significance of 
the Messianic daim. It seems more than probable from 
the study of the history that Jesus attained gradu- 
ally and not without many misgivings to the specific 
conviction that he was Messiah; and his hesitation is 
not, perhaps, difficult to explain. The Messianic idea 
did not correspond, except very imperfectly, to his 
own sense of his mission. It was entangled with 
national expectations in which he did not share. It 
laid on him a terrible responsibility. He was well 
aware that as soon as he declared himself Messiah 
he would be forced into conflict with the ruling 

ML. 11:27; Lk. 10:22. 



126 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

the apocalyptic hope God was to fulfill his purposes 
through the Messiah, and Jesus had to identify him- 
self with this mysterious figure. As contrasted with 
those who had only foretold the Kingdom he was 
to be the instrument of its coming, and therefore he 
was the Messiah. The name was inadequate, and he 
accepted it with misgivings; yet it was the only name 
whereby he could in any manner define the true 
meaning of his work 

Jesus* claim to Messiahship must therefore be inter- 
preted in the light of his whole conception of the 
Kingdom. While he starts from the hope of a new 
age he thinks not so much of an outward change as 
of the spiritual conditions which will obtain in the 
future. To have a will in harmony with God's will, 
to enter into fellowship with God, is to possess the 
Kingdom. The work of the Messiah is to make this 
new life possible. Through the Messiah men will 
attain to the Kingdom in the sense that they will 
apprehend the higher world, they will receive power 
to do God's will, they will know God as Father. 
This is not to import a fanciful allegorical meaning 
into Jesus' claim to be Messiah, but only to explain 
it in accordance with his own teaching. Everywhere 
in Jewish thought the idea of the Messiah is deter- 



THE TEACHING OF JESUS 127 

mined by some given view of the Kingdom of God. 
When the Kingdom is Israel, delivered and exalted, 
the Messiah is the Messianic king. When it is the 
reign of righteousness he appears, as in the Psalms 
of Solomon, to establish justice on the earth. When 
it is a transcendental order, as in most of the apoc- 
alypses, he is a mysterious heavenly being. It would 
follow that Jesus likewise conceived of the Messiah 
as inaugurating such a Kingdom as he looked for. 
"Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven": that 
was how he understood the Kingdom. When he de- 
dared himself Messiah he must have thought of his 
work in its moral significance. Through him the 
great spiritual change would be effected. The will of 
God would come at last to its fulfillment, in the 
world and in the hearts of men. 

Thus the Messianic claim is no excrescence on the 
gospel, due to some illusion on the part of Jesus' 
followers, or to some error or extravagance of his 
own. The church rightly fixed on it from the very 
first as the central fact in the gospel. In Jesus it saw 
the Messiah, die Lord, who would return to bring in 
the Kingdom, and who was guiding and sustaining 
his people in their quest for it. As he had proclaimed 
the Kingdom he was himself the Captain of our 



128 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

salvation. He had imparted the living power by 
which men could attain to a new life. This was the 
daim which he made for himself and in which the 
faith of the church must ever be rooted. In him 
appeared the Messiah, "who opened the Kingdom of 
heaven to all believers." 



m 

THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 

(1) The Transition 

THE hope of the Kingdom, on which Jesus had 
built his message, seems almost to disappear from 
the later New Testament teaching. From this alone 
it has sometimes been inferred that Christianity in its 
historical form was virtually a new religion, o Hel- 
lenistic type. Jesus was ostensibly placed at the 
center, but he was transformed into a divine being. 
His gospel of the Kingdom was replaced by a system 
of theological doctrine. 

Now it is true that in the later New Testament 
books we seldom meet with the term "Kingdom of 
God,*' though it is never completely forgotten. Yet 
the idea itself is always present, expressed under 
many different forms. It is not too much to say that 
if the Synoptic Gospels had never been written we 
should still be able to determine, from the other 
books, at least the purport of Jesus* teaching. We 
might be in doubt as to the precise term he used, but 

129 



130 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

in view of the constant recurrence of one main theme 
we should know that he had spoken of a final con- 
summation. We should know that he had laid down 
a rule of life by which men might be conformed even 
now to that will of God which would prevail in the 
future. The message of the Kingdom was never lost. 
We can trace it all through the New Testament and 
afterwards, as the great highroad along which Chris- 
tian thought has never ceased to travel. It has taken 
many strange windings and passed through country 
which at every turn has shown a different aspect. 
But the Christian message has been always, as it was 

' f ,-j'J*,', '"A. VH," i .4 ,, , , , ,-,,,, - ' . ', , ', ' -'.., i ',..,' ^ '.,:^, 

at first, the gospel of 'the Kingdom. 

Wiy is it tfiat tEe later conceptions appear so dif- 
ferent from that of Jesus himself? Here, no doubt, 
we have to allow for those foreign influences which 
came into operation after his death. They did not 
create the historical gospel, but they had an all- 
important part in shaping it. The hope of the King- 
dom was taken over by Jesus from the Old Testa- 
ment and from the Rabbis and apocalyptists. It was 
so impregnated with Jewish beliefs, so closely bound 
up with Jewish history, that to the Gentile mind it 
was unintelligible. The very phrase "Kingdom of 
God" would perhaps have carried with it a political 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 131 

suggestion, dangerous at a time when Christians 
were under the suspicion of disloyalty. 1 In any case 
it would have required elaborate explanation. So as 
soon as the gospel passed over into the Gentile world 
the effort was made to translate the term employed 
by Jesus into one that could be understood; and this 
was not difficult. For although the idea of the King- 
dom was Jewish it answered to conceptions which 
belonged to religion generally. Greek and Oriental 
thought had long arrived at these conceptions by 
paths of their own, and it was inevitable that Chris- 
tian missionaries should adapt themselves to the Gen- 
tile mind. They sought to express in new language 
what appeared to them the essential meaning of 
Jesus' own message. This could not be done with- 
out throwing it into a different context, and to this 
extent there is ground for the assertion that Chris- 
tianity, in the course of the first century, changed its 
character. Jesus' idea of the Kingdom could not 
ite fully reproduced tinder the Greek modes of 
thought. 

The alien influences, however, would have been 



1 Cf. Justin, Apologia n, "When you hear that we look for a 
Kingdom, you suppose, without making Inquiry, that we mean & 
human kingdom." 



132 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

ineffectual if there had not been forces in the reli- 
gion itself which worked along with them. The 
nature of these forces has already been indicated. 
(1) On the one hand, the message taught by Jesus 
was now illuminated by what he had been in his 
own Person. His life had closed in marvelous events 
which were fraught, as everyone could see, with a 
deep significance. Why had he died on the Cross? 
What was the meaning of his Resurrection? 
Whither had he gone and in what manner would 
he return? It was these questions concerning Jesus 
himself which mainly occupied the church. He be- 
came the object of faith, and all converts were 
required at baptism to make the confession "Jesus 
is Lord." The beginnings of this attitude to Jesus 
can be traced in his own lifetime. For his disciples 
he had been not only Teacher but Master, and this 
personal loyalty to him was intensified after 
his death. The hope of the Kingdom was now 
inseparable from the belief in Jesus as the acknowl- 
edged Messiah. Sometimes the difference between 
the earlier and the later gospel is made to consist 
in this that while Jesus looked for the Kingdom 
of God the church took its stand on faith in Jesus. 
But it is forgotten that this faith included in it the 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 133 

hope for the Kingdom and made it more certain. 
Jesus had departed in order to return, bringing in 
the Kingdom which he had promised. To believe 
in Jesus as the Lord who would presently appear in 
glory was to wait confidently for the Kingdom. 

(2) The new interpretation, however, was made 
necessary by the message itself. While Jesus had 
proclaimed the Kingdom under apocalyptic forms 
of thought he had far transcended the old Jewish 
conception. The Kingdom as he knew it was not 
merely the coming age but the moral ideal, the 
higher spiritual order, the inward fellowship with 
God. As men reflected on the message its manifold 
import became apparent. Especially when it was 
carried into the Gentile world and thrown into new 
language, its implications came to light. The age 
was one of religious and intellectual ferment. In 
all the great cities of the empire there were diverse 
currents of thought ethical, social, mystical, phil- 
osophical; and all the conflicting movements laid 
hold of the new gospel, and found in it something 
to which they responded. The message of the King- 
dom assumed a different character as one or another 
of its meanings was brought to the forefront. So 
within the first generation the church had divided 



134 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

into many seas, each of them maintaining the 
gospel in some particular form. No doubt there 
were many causes which brought about this division, 
but the chief one was nothing else than the nature 
of the gospel itself. It was found impossible to 
bind down to a single formula the many-sided con- 
ception of Jesus* 

(2) The Kingdom as Apocalyptic 
The first effect of Jesus' departure was to heighten 
the hope of the Kingdom on its purely apocalyptic 
side. Jesus had died and risen again, and was now 
clothed with his full authority as Messiah. At any 
moment he might return to judge the world and 
inaugurate the new age. It is not to be wondered 
at that under the influence of this belief the church 
was intent on the apocalyptic aspect of the message, 
almost to the exclusion of every other. The dis- 
ciples were assured that they were now living on 
the very edge of the great crisis, and nothing mat- 
tered but that they should be prepared for 
meeting it. Sayings of Jesus about the future were 
made more definite and understood quite literally. 
His own predictions were supplemented from 
Jewish apocalyptic The one desire was to know 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 135 

more of the nature and circumstances of the great 
change which was so near. There can be little doubt 
that the mood of the primitive church was far more 
apocalyptic than Jesus* own. What had been for 
him the framework of a spiritual teaching was now 
of absorbing interest for its own sake. 

Even when the first eager hopes had died down 
this interest in the future continued to be an essen- 
tial element in Christian thought. Paul, in his 
deeper reflection, broke away from it, but he never 
ceased to look for a literal return of Christ to 
establish a visible reign of God. The writer to the 
Hebrews makes room for flie same beliefs, side by 
side with his lofty idealism. For the mass of 
Christians the apocalyptic hope in its original form 
maintained its place, and has done so to this day. 
There are many indications in the New Testament 
that nothing caused such grave misgivings as the 
apparent failure of Christ to return and fulfill his 
promise. Ordinary believers had grounded their re- 
ligion on this hope, and when it proved vain they 
seemed to have lost everything. 

In two ways, however, the apocalyptic of the 
church was different from that which we find in 
the Gospels. (1) In the first place, it was more 



136 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

fully elaborated Where Jesus had spoken of the 
future in vague and half-symbolical terms, the 
church built up an articulate scheme, with the aid 
of suggestions from Jewish and occasionally from 
Pagan sources. Not only so, but it began to pro- 
duce its own apocalyptic; this, indeed, was one of 
the chief activities of the early Christian teachers. 
We hear particularly of one order in the primitive 
ministry, that of the prophets, who in a mood of 
ecstasy had visions of the future and described them 
in glowing language. Paul himself had this 
prophetic gift. He tells how he was caught up into 
the third heaven and heard unutterable things.* He 
speaks of a "wisdom** which he imparted to his 
more mature converts, dealing, as we can gather 
from his dark allusions, with those transactions in 
the heavenly world which had led up to the Incar- 
nation. 3 In rapturous passages of his Epistles * he 
seems to reproduce some of his prophetic utterances. 
One conspicuous example of Christian prophecy has 
been preserved to us in the book of Revelation. It 
is written on the model of the Jewish apocalypses, 
and makes constant use of their ideas and imagery. 

* Cor. 12:4. * 1 Cor. 2. 

* E.g. the dosing portions of Rom. 8 and 1 Cor. 15. 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 137 

Yet it everywhere bears the stamp of originality. 
A new factor has entered into the apocalyptic view 
and has profoundly changed its character. (2) This, 
then, is the other great difference between the 
earlier and the later apocalyptic. For the traditional 
hope the Messiah had been at most a shadowy figure. 
He does not appear at all in most of the Jewish 
apocalyptic books, and where a place is given him 
his action is purely accidental. He has no personal 
attributes. His function is little more than to pre- 
side, in the name of God, over the final events. 
For Christian apocalyptic the thought of Christ is 
always central. It is he who makes the Kingdom 
possible, and its coming depends on his advent. 
The community that inherits it will be his people. 
He will be enthroned in the Kingdom and all its 
circumstances will in some manner reflect him. For 
this reason alone it is false to say that the church 
merely took over that view of the future which had 
come down to it in apocalyptic Judaism. 

In even the crudest of the early Christian forecasts 
there is this new element which enters into their 
very substance. The Kingdom of the future has 
Christ for its center, and those are highest in it who 
have served htm faithfully unto death. When the 



138 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

Kingdom is thus associated with Christ it ceases to 
be merely apocalyptic. There may be no direct 
attempt to think of it spiritually, but by the mere 
fact that it implies the Christian revelation it stands 
for higher religious values. This is abundantly evi- 
dent when we compare our book of Revelation with 
the Jewish Apocalyptic writings. It might seem as 
if the Christian seer knew little of Jesus' teaching 
and is content to fall back on the old, realistic con- 
ceptions of a happier world. Yet the Kingdom as 
he imagines it is bound up with no mere national 
hope but with the victory of Christ's cause; the 
thought of it is made the inspiration to holiness, 
righteousness, self-sacrifice. Above all, it is definitely 
related to the hope of immortality. In Judaism this 
hope had never shaken itself free from the national 
idea, and was dim and uncertain at the best. "I 
know/' says Martha sadly, in the Fourth Gospel, 
"that my brother will rise again at the resurrection, 
in the last day." B This thought of a life reserved 
for a distant resurrection was taken over by Chris- 
tian apocalyptic, but it has never had more than a 
formal value. It was transcended from the first in 
virtue of the faith that Christ ruled in the future 

5 Jm. 11:24. 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 139 

world and would be mindful of his people. This 
is already apparent in Paul. He is bound by the 
accepted view that there must be an interval before 
he can enter on the future life, but with his Christian 
instinct he rebels against this belief. He feels that if 
fellowship with Christ means anything it cannot 
be interrupted. The believer must enter at once on 
the immortality to which Christ has already attained. 8 
The same faith pervades the book of Revelation. The 
writer assumes, in the apocalyptic manner, that the 
mass of men will only rise in a "second resurrection" 
at the last day; Christians must await the final 
triumph of the church before they receive their 
inheritance/ Yet all this belongs to the outward 
scheme of the book. Its power consists in its asser- 
tion of a personal immortality which the believer 
can confidently hope for immediately after death. 
We read in the book of Acts that Stephen in his 
dying vision saw the heavens opened and Christ 
sitting at the right hand of God. 8 A similar vision 
throws its light over all Christian apocalyptic. Christ 
is now the central figure of the Kingdom, and the 
hope of it takes shape from the knowledge of what 
he was and of what he still is in the experience of 

6 2 Cor. 5:1 ; Rom. 8:34f. 7 Rev. 20:5, 6. * Ac 7:55, 56. 



140 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

his people. Through this new f actor that has entered 
into it the old apocalyptic is entirely changed. 

The change reacted on the whole theory which 
lay at the basis of apocalyptic thought. It had been 
assumed that the world's history fell into two ages, 
and that the Kingdom of God was that age which 
was still in the future. Jesus himself had started 
from this conception, and it was taken for granted 
by the primitive church, which adopted "hope" as 
its watchword. The disciples were those who "waited 
for the Lord's appearing." They were living in the 
present age but looked beyond it. Their attitude 
was one of patient expectation in view of the day, 
which could not be long delayed, when Christ 
would return and the new age would set in. 

This idea of futurity, however, ceased gradually 
to be dominant. It was still believed that the Lord 
would appear and make all things new, and Paul 
was confident, almost to the end, that he would 
himself survive until that day. The word "hope" 
continued to be used in a comprehensive sense for 
the Christian religion itself. Yet an increasing em- 
phasis was placed on the other conception that the 
Kingdom is already present. Christ had revealed an 
invisible, heavenly world in which God reigns. He 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 141 

had called his people even now to share in its citizen- 
ship. The apocalyptic outlook changes, if one might 
so express it, from the category of time to that of 
place. It is concerned not with the two ages but 
with the two worlds. 

This change is illustrated in the book of Revela- 
tion. Ostensibly the writer works with the old 
apocalyptic idea that the present age is closing 
amidst a scene of ruin and disaster. The church 
has only to wait for a little while longer and the 
future, so ardently expected, will break in. Yet 
what John offers to his fellow sufferers is the vision 
not so much of the future as of the heavenly world. 
He assures them that their cause, which to human 
eyes seems to be hopeless, is one with the victorious 
cause of God. He draws a curtain aside and opens 
"a door in heaven" so that they may behold that 
other world. 8 All that they are struggling for here 
has there been realized. God has already established 
his Kingdom and they have part in it. They are to 
bear up manfully in the knowledge that they represent 
on earth the triumphant company in heaven. Such is 
the idea which runs through the book and gives 
meaning to it$ fantastic imagery. The new outlook 
v, 4:1. 



142 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

was due, in some measure, to the great conflict in 
which the church now found itself involved. One 
of the functions of apocalyptic had always been to 
bring comfort in dark times by the promise of future 
deliverance; but the church had realised, as soon 
as it entered on its period of trial, that this was not 
enough. There is a modern apocalyptic which bids 
us find our inspiration in the thought of a distant 
future. Not in our time but some day, perhaps 
centuries hence, the world will be free and happy, 
and in that hope we can work and endure. This is 
often put forward as a substitute for the old religious 
motive, but one may doubt whether it ever yet had 
much efficacy. Men require to feel that they them- 
selves have in some way a share in the fulfillment. 
In the assurance that this cause of theirs, although 
it seems to be losing, is yet linked up with one that 
is invincible, they are capable of faith and sacrifice. 
It was the need for this certainty which compelled 
the church to turn from the apocalyptic hope to the 
thought of that heavenly world in which God reigns. 
But two other factors cooperated with the practical 
need. On the one hand there was that faith in Christ 
which had transformed the old expectations. Christ 
would not only come, in some near or distant future, 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 143 

to establish the Kingdom, but already he reigns with 
God. In so far as they were one with Christ his 
people had attained to the Kingdom. On the other 
hand, as it passed into the Gentile world the church 
was brought into contact with Greek philosophical 
thinking. Ideas from this source began to mingle 
with those inherited from Jewish apocalyptic. The 
conception of the Kingdom, like all the primitive 
beliefs, was now apprehended in a different way. 

(3) The Ideal World 

It was inevitable that the new religion should seek 
to present itself to the Gentiles under forms of 
philosophical thought. Philosophy in the first cen- 
tury had come out of the schools into the market 
place. Its ideas were applied to law and morals, 
were freely discussed in ordinary conversation, had 
stamped themselves on the current language. Re- 
ligion, more especially, had allied itself with phi- 
losophy, and it was in the garb of secret philosophies 
that the new Oriental cults made their appeal to 
the West. Christianity would in any case have fallen 
in with the universal practice, but the way had 
already been prepared for it through Judaism. Philo 
of, Alexandria had attempted to work out a theology 



144 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

for Hebrew religion, and had employed the Greek 
philosophy as his instrument. His writings alone 
have survived from the Judaism of the Dispersion, 
but there is reason to believe that he was only the 
most eminent of many thinkers who were trying to 
expound the Old Testament teaching in the language 
of Platonism and Stoicism. 

It was the apocalyptic ideas in Christianity which 
lent themselves most naturally to philosophical in* 
terpretation. Jewish apocalyptic, as we have already 
seen, was a kind of philosophy. The Hebrew mind 
had not learned, like the Greek, to work by logical 
processes, but it had sought in its own manner to 
explore the world which lies beyond the senses. By 
vision, imagination, reflection on the ancient 
oracles, the apocalyptists had set themselves to 
provide answers to a number of questions which 
were, in their nature, speculative. When Jewish 
thinkers had become acquainted with Greek philos- 
ophy they did not give up those older speculations 
but tried to present them in what seemed a more 
adequate form. This, it may be said, is the effort 
of Philo. At first sight he may appear to break away 
entirely from the Hebrew beliefs and to replace 
them by conceptions borrowed from philosophy. It 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 145 

has often been remarked that if he had any knowl- 
edge whatever of the apocalyptic side of Jewish 
thought he leaves it entirely out of account. Yet 
on a deeper view Philo himself may fairly be classed 
among the apocalyptists. Certainly he does not use 
their methods, and has hardly one specific idea in 
common with them. But his interest is essentially 
the same as theirs to discover the nature of that 
higher world of being which lies beyond the visible. 
In his reliance on vision and ecstasy, in his efforts 
to discover secret meanings in Old Testament tradi- 
tion, in his love of allegory and symbol, we can 
perceive a real affinity to the apocalyptic type of 
mind. The one difference is that Philo resolves the 
concrete imagery of apocalyptic into the abstractions 
of Greek speculation. Instead of outward super- 
natural agencies he sees a play of qualities, ideas, 
principles. What he offers is a philosophical equiv- 
alent of the old apocalyptic. 

So it is not difficult to see how the conception 
of the Kingdom of God, in the course of the Gentile 
mission, came to be apprehended in a new manner. 
The ideas, of Jesus were not replaced by something 
else, but were expressed uad^r Greek instead of 
Jewish forms. He had spoken of the Kingdom of 



146 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

God, conceiving of it as the new age when God's 
will would be fulfilled, but behind the apocalyptic 
idea there was that of a divine, invisible order. This 
was now understood and formulated in the light of 
philosophy. 

Greek thought had arrived at a conception which 
bore a real analogy to the Hebrew one, and which 
found its classical expression in Plato's doctrine of 
the ideal world. This doctrine, in one form or an- 
other, underlies all the later speculation. Plato had 
held that all visible things are imperfect copies of 
ideal types, which cannot be apprehended by the 
senses but only by the mind. This seemed to him 
to be a sure deduction from the very nature of 
thought. When you see an object you can pass a 
judgment on it, comparing it with what it aims at 
being, and recognizing where it falls short. You 
have never seen that perfect type, but somehow it 
must exist, since you can use it as the criterion of 
what is actually before you. It is, indeed, the only 
thing which does properly exist. It is the one behind 
the many, the abiding reality which reflects itself, 
more or less clearly, in the changing onns. 

Plato was thus led to his theory of a higher world, 
a world of ideas over against the world of sense. 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 147 

He reached this theory through his effort to explain 
the nature of knowledge. Before we can know we 
must have a truth present to the mind and so apply 
it to the things in which it is embodied. How do 
we know that an object is beautiful? Because there 
is born in us an idea of beauty, by which we can 
test the things we see. We do not so much learn 
as recollect, judging each new appearance by that per- 
fect type which, in some inexplicable way, we know 
already. Thus Plato regards the mind as native to a 
world of higher forms and continually recalling what 
it has known in some other state of being. But 
although the theory grew out of an intellectual need 
it becomes in Plato's hands essentially religious. 
Men are to live their lives here with the knowledge 
that their true interests lie elsewhere. They are to 
look at all that is transient under the light of the 
unchanging. This religious aspect of the theory 
comes out most clearly in the culminating doctrine 
of the Idea of the Good. All visible things have 
their ideal types, but these types themselves are the 
outcome and reflection of the Good. They are per- 
fect in so far as they participate in the Good, which 
is itself beyond them and apart from them. Plato 
compares it to the sun, which illuminates and 



148 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

quickens all other things. It might well be argued 
that the philosophy of Plato is ultimately a religion, 
in which the Idea of the Good corresponds to God. 
Perhaps no Christian teacher in the first century 
had an immediate acquaintance with Plato's work. 
His influence on Christian theology was all-important, 
but it acted through indirect channels the general 
thinking of the time, the various forms of mystical 
religion, above all the Alexandrian philosophy, 
Philo, the grand exponent of that philosophy, was 
himself a Jew, profoundly in sympathy with the 
essential Hebrew beliefs, but he interprets them by 
means of Greek speculation. When he explains the 
Creation story in terms of Platonic idealism he dis- 
tinguishes between God in his absolute Being and 
God as an active power, who goes forth from himself 
in the Logos or divine Reason. The world which 
we know is modeled on a world which exists in this 
Reason of God. According to Philo's favorite meta- 
phor, God is like an architect who first constructs a 
building in his mind. This creation in the mind is 
the essential building. The structure of stone and 
lime is only a copy, wrought out in imperfect 
materials, of that which has first existed in thought. 
So the world as we see it is the reflection of the true 



THE LATER. DEVELOPMENT 149 

world, created in the thought of the divine Architect 
and apprehended by our own thought. Philo some- 
times speaks as if the Logos and that intelligible 
world were one and the same, inasmuch as the whole 
sum of God's thought is expressed in the world 
which he creates. At other times he seems to identify 
the intelligible world with the actual cosmos, which 
embodies and manifests the world conceived by God. 
A beautiful building may be regarded as a projection 
of thought. It really consists not of stone and timber 
but of thought, which informs the crude materials 
and gives them harmony and meaning. So for Philo 
the contemplation of the world is a means of attain- 
ing to God. Through the visible world we can lay 
hold of the invisible, and unite ourselves with the 
Logos and with God himself. 

This metaphysical doctrine of Philo may seem to 
have little in common with that conception of the 
Kingdom o God which passed from Jewish apoc- 
alyptic into Christianity. Yet Philo, as we have 
seen, was in the true succession of the Jewish 
thinkers. He had before his mind the idea of a 
world set free from all limitations, in which God 
alone would reign. Under the Greek influences he 
conceived of it, not in the manner of the prophets 



150 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

as a world of righteousness, but as the divine order 
in contrast with the earthly one. But this conception 
also was implicit in Hebrew thinking. It lies in the 
background of the apocalyptic visions of the new 
age. It forms a real element in the thought of Jesus, 
and needed only to be philosophically defined. In 
the light of Philonic doctrine this was now pos- 
sible. 

Fiota Philxv therefore, the Christian thinkers took 
over the idea of an intelligible world which is the 
reality behind all visible existence. This metaphysical 
doctrine Is henceforth blended with the original con- 
ception of the Kingdom of God. The two ideas had 
grown out of different roots, and might seem at first 
sight to have no affinity. Plato and Philo move in 
a region of abstractions which appear to be far re- 
moved from the realistic Hebrew belief in a new 
age, breaking in through a sudden crisis. Yet behind 
both conceptions there is the sense that earthly 
things are imperfect and that somewhere there must 
be fulfillment. It was recognized almost from the 
first that Greek and Christian thinkers could meet 
on a common ground. 

The merging of the two conceptions is already 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 151 

apparent in Paul. One of Paul's characteristic words 
is "incorruption" (aphtharsia) a word of philosophi- 
cal origin, which marks the changeless quality of 
the spiritual things. The Christian, for Paul, Jjas 
part in the realm of the unchanging, as opposed to 
this world of decay. The contrast between "this 
world" and that higher sphere of true existence is 
drawn out explicitly in several well-known passages. 
"Now we see through a glass darkly, but then face 
to face." 10 "While we look not at the things which 
are seen but at those which are not seen; for the 
things which are seen are temporal, but the things 
which are not seen are eternal." lx In a verse like 
this we have clearly passed out of the domain of 
Jewish apocalyptic thought. The old conceptions of 
the new age and of the upper world in which God 
dwells amidst his angels have been transformed 
under the influence of Platonic idealism. 

In one book, more particularly, the so-called 
Epistle to the Hebrews, the whole Christian message 
is construed from this new point of view. The 
book is especially noteworthy as we can trace in it 

10 1 Cor, 13:12. 
"20)1.4:18. 



152 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

the actual transition from the apocalyptic to the 
philosophical mode of thought. With one side of 
his mind the writer remains within the Hints of the 
traditional hope. He makes room for the belief in 
the coming age, when Christ will appear and make 
all things new. Like the author of Revelation he 
imagines a heavenly world, which contains the true 
sanctuary where Christ ministers as our High-Priest, 
and the true Jerusalem into which Christ's people 
will finally be gathered. But behind all this imagery 
borrowed from apocalyptic there is the Platonic con- 
ception of an ideal world which is the real one 
although invisible. It is by means of this conception 
that the writer tries to explain the meaning of the 
work of Christ. As Christians we are enabled, while 
in this passing world, to apprehend the unseen things 
and to make them our only certainties. We can live 
amidst the changing and unreal with our eyes fixed 
on the everlasting. Hence the new significance which 
this writer gives to Faith. For Paul it is the act of 
trust and self-surrender; in Hebrews it is the power 
of reaching out to the unseen. By faith we have 
knowledge of the higher world. Christ has brought 
it near to us and taught us to live for it, so that 
believing in him we have an anchor of the soul which 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 153 

"penetrates into that which is within the veil/' ia 
Thus in Hebrews the Christian hope of the King- 
dom of God becomes one with an abiding sense of 
the ideal world. 

This new strain of thought is no less characteristic 
of the Fourth Gospel, though it is there combined, 
as we shall see later, with other elements. The 
evangelist practically discards the old apocalyptic 
and substitutes for it the idea of the invisible, 
spiritual world. One of the ever-recurring words in 
the Gospel is "truth." Christ came to reveal the 
truth, to lead us to the truth; he is himself the truth. 
The word is repeated with different shades of mean- 
ing in different contexts, but it always carries with 
it the suggestion of ultimate reality, as against those 
earthly shadows which we mistake for truth. It is 
the same thought which underlies the contrast, per- 
vasive in the Fourth Gospel, of "the world" and 
that higher sphere out of which Christ came and to 
which he leads his people. The world, as the evan- 
gelist understands it, is the region of the visible. 
He describes it sometimes as the darkness, as opposed 
to the true Light. So when he speaks of "heaven" . 
or "heavenly things" he no longer has in mind that 

11 Heb. 6:19. 



154 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

angelic world which was imagined by the apocalyp- 
tists. He uses the traditional word in order to con- 
vey in popular language his philosophical conception. 
Christ came forth from heaven, from the sphere of 
true being. In his essential nature he had never left 
heaven, and through him we also may become chil- 
dren of that higher world. 

This idealism has remained a vital element in our 
religion, and perhaps in these days it is the dis- 
tinctive element. We think of the Christian as of 
one who stands, amidst the prevailing materialism, 
for things unseen, who tries to understand the world 
around him in the light of a spiritual order. This 
Christian idealism answers to at least one side of 
Jesus' own conception of the Kingdom of God. To 
be sure he advanced no philosophical theory. The 
doctrine of an ultimate reality, shadowed forth in 
the objects of sense, would have sounded strange 
to him. Yet when he spoke of the Kingdom he too 
was thinking of a world in which only spiritual 
things have value. He described it in the apocalyptic 
manner as in the future, but his one aim was to 
make it a present influence in the lives of his people. 
Looking to the Kingdom which was to come they 
were to draw near even now to the eternal world. 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 155 

(4) The New Life 

The hope for the Kingdom of God was different, 
in its nature and origin, from the Platonic doctrine 
of the ideal world; yet it is not difficult to see how 
the one conception might combine with the other. 
It seems otherwise, however, with that other inter- 
pretation of the gospel which first meets us in 
Paul, and gradually became normative for Christian 
thought. Where Jesus had spoken of the Kingdom 
we now hear of a new life, born in the believer 
through faith in Christ. In the Fourth Gosjgel the 
very term "Kingdom of God" is virtually discarded. 

* ,..,,,,.., -,. **T1*+V i <,'"""''' *WVt*'*" *>'" '-*"*' HI*.' ,'' '* ""('. 

The evangelist was well aware that Jesus had used 
it, for in one place he alludes to it in passing, as a 
familiar Christian term, 18 From this it is clear that 
his general avoidance of it is deliberate. He thinks 
of Christ as the Son, who possesses in himself the 
divine life and imparts it to those who abide in him. 
The message of the Kingdom becomes, for this 
evangelist, the message of Eternal Life. 

It is not surprising that modern writers have here 
found the crucial proof that Christianity, in the 
course of the Gentile mission, had changed into a 

18 Jn. 3:3, 5. 



156 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

new religion. The church, while still calling itself 
by the name of Jesus, had forgotten or refused to 
know what he had actually taught. At the heart of 
his religion there was placed a new conception, 
borrowed from Oriental mysticism, from which all 
thinking took its departure. Jesus was no longer 
the Messiah of the Kingdom but the Redeemer, in 
union with whom the believer was set free from 
earthly conditions and was made partaker of the 
divine life. 

It has to be granted that the later doctrine appears 
to be different, at almost every point, from the 
message of Jesus himself. Jesus thought of the 
Kingdom objectively, while the new life is an inward 
reality. He looked for a futile Kingdom, and the 
new life is given in the present. He expected a 
sudden crisis, not a silent, spiritual change. He 
spoke of a Kingdom that would embrace the whole 
world, while the new life manifests itself in the 
heart of each individual believer. These are all 
obvious differences, and we cannot but recognize in 
view of them that the gospel has been^ profoundly 
affected by a foreign influence. Jesus had delivered 
his message on the ground of the Jewish apocalyptic 
hope. The later teachers had approached it from 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 157 

the side of Hellenistic thought, and had thus arrived 
at a new understanding of its purpose. 

This purpose, for Jesus himself, was to effect a 
change of will. There is no hint in the Synoptic 
teaching that man is by nature separated from God. 
On the contrary, God is our Father, from whom we 
have willfully departed and to whom we may at any 
time return, sure of a welcome. All that shuts us 
out from the higher life is the perversity of our own 
will, and the effort of Jesus is to create in us the 
cjiange of mind whereby we may find entrance into 
the Kingdom. But in Greek thought, as far back as 
we can trace it, there was a deep-seated sense of the 
misery entailed on man by the mere fact that he is 
man. What is wrong with us is nothing else than 
our human nature. The gods, by the law of their 
being, are free, happy, immortal; but man is made 
of other substance, and in spite of all virtue and 
resolve is in bondage to his earthly limitations. He 
can find no deliverance unless, by some miracle, he 
comes to participate in the nature of the gods. 1 * 
The belief grew up, and in the first century was 
widely extended, that such a mirade is possible. By 

14 The Greek conception is admirably presented in Rohde's 
Psyche. 



158 TOE KINGDOM OF GOD 

occult knowledge, by initiation into mysterious rites, 
men may be freed from the burden of mortality and 
share in the divine essence. This strain of thought 
had entered into Christianity almost from the moment 
that it had contact with the Gentile world. That 
Christ should change the will was felt to be insuffi- 
cient. How could he effect this change unless he 
first transmuted this poor human nature into some- 
thing better? Man's being must in some way become 
one with the divine being, and this was the true work 
achieved by, Christ. He had changed the water into 
wine, the lower nature into the higher. He had 
come that through him we might Have life; that 
higher life which is in God. From this point of view 
the gospel" was now interpreted. 

MudTfias been made in recent years of the striking 
resemblance between the Christian doctrine and that 
which found a place in the mystery religions. There 
too it was believed that by union with a divine Lord, 
who had died and risen again, the worshiper might 
pass into a new state of being. It is not improbable 
that Paul, at least, was influenced in some indirect 
fashion by those mystery ideas, but the parallel 
breaks down as soon as we examine it in detail. The 
hero worshiped in the mystery cults was a man who 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 159 

had died by some evil accident and whom the gods 
had raised, out of pity, to a new and higher existence. 
The initiate was united with him and shared in his 
transformation by an outward ritual process. The 
new life obtained was ethically colorless, and con- 
sisted merely in a sort of physical immortality. In 
the Pauline doctrine all this is different. Christ 
rose again in virtue of the divine life which was 
inherently his, although he had submitted for a time 
to earthly restrictions. Union with him is dependent 
on faith the act of self-surrender to the divine love 
and goodness which Christ revealed. The new life 
into which we rise with Christ is one of righteous- 
ness. These differences cannot be set aside as acci- 
dental, but are bound up with the very substance of 
Paul's Christianity. He had nothing in common 
with the Pagan cults except the belief, inherent in 
all Hellenistic religion, that man's nature must be 
changed before he can attain to the higher life. 

This conception of a life different in kind from 
the natural one had far-reaching effects on Christian 
thought and worship. It accounts for the central 
place assigned to the Sacraments. It explains the 
long and bitter controversy which led to the defini- 
tion, in metaphysical terms, of the twofold nature 



160 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

of Christ. Nothing seems to be more remote from 
the realities of Christian faith than this dreary con- 
troversy, but for the Greek mind everything was at 
stake in it. Since the work of Christ was to impart 
the divine essence to humanity his relation to God 
had to be fully established. The Greek Fathers were 
by no means blind to practical religious issues, but 
they were convinced that the change of nature was 
primary. "Christ was made human that we might 
be made divine/' Until that miracle was wrought 
in us there could be no question of moral and 
spiritual fellowship with God. 

It might appear, then, that in the later interpreta- 
tion we have traveled far from Jesus' own conception 
of a Kingdom of God into which men enter by way 
of repentance and moral obedience. The gospel as 
presented by Paul and John and the theologians who 
followed them seems to owe far more to Hellenistic 
religion than to Jesus himself. Yet in two cardinal 
respects these later thinkers remain faithful to the 
teaching of Jesus. (1) On the one hand, while they 
regard the change of nature as the necessary condi- 
tion of all else they insist that he who has entered 
on this new life is morally a new man. His mind is 
set no longer on things of this world but on those 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 161 

which are above. He has cleansed himself from all 
selfish motives and follows that rule of love which 
he has learned from Christ. It has often been asserted 
that Paul changed the practical Christianity of the 
Gospels into an abstract doctrine, but this is palpably 
untrue. Paul, and one might also say the Fourth 
Evangelist, are full of the sense that religion means 
a new character, a new mode of living. They do not 
conceive of God as absolute Being, after the manner 
of Greek speculation, but as righteousness, holiness, 
love. When they speak of oneness with God they 
mean oneness with him in his moral nature, for this, 
much more than any of his metaphysical attributes, 
is the divine essence. It would hardly be too much 
to say that the will of God is no less primary with 
Paul and John than with Jesus. They take for granted 
always that participation in the divine life implies a 
perfect obedience to God's will. "That as sin hath 
reigned unto death, even so might grace reign 
through righteousness unto eternal life/' 1B The 
divine life and the divine righteousness are thought 
of together, as things which cannot be separated. 
Not only is Paul in full harmony with Jesus as to 
the moral quality of the new life but by means of his 

15 Rom. 5:21. 



162 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

Hellenistic conception he enforces the demand which 
is more distinctive than any other of the ethic of 
Jesus. According to the sayings and parables all 
true obedience must spring from an inward motive, 
from a renewed will. Paul insists likewise on this 
spontaneity which marks all Christian action. "Walk 
in the Spirit and ye shall not fulfil the lusts of the 
flesh/' la Morality no, longer depends on an outward 
lawbut flows of its Qwa^ccprdput of the new nature 
created in us by Christ. 

tf. if "rt- ' " """ '" *>" irrrr r~. 

(2) Again, it is always assumed by the later 
teachers that the ^wJjf^mYQlyfis^.jcommunion of 
believerg r with one another. Here we have one of 

w .^*" t<rXf ' tJ "'"'* t "~-~, *'>.,,*, ^,n',' :,M 

the most striking differences of the Christian con- 
ception from that Hellenistic one which might seem 
in so many ways to resemble it. The life bestowed 
on the initiate of a mystery cult was purely indi- 
vidual: in Christianity it is associated with the com- 
munity. Springing from faith it is intensely personal, 
but by his own faith the believer unites himself with 
all Christ's people. Each of the members participates 
in 'the life of the whole body. It is not a little re- 
markable that those, New Testament writings which 
deal most profoundly with the inward, personal life 

"Gal. 5:16. 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 163 

are also those which give a central place to the idea 
of the church; one need only instance the Fourth 
Gospel and the Epistle to Ephesians. Personal re- 
ligion and fervid churchmanship have often been 
regarded as mutually exclusive, but in the New 
Testament they go together. The union with Christ 
which changes you into a new man brings you into 
fellowship with the brethren. It enlists you on the 
side of that great cause in which Christ is leader, and 
which at last will overcome the world. Apart from 
this larger interest in which you share, you cannot 
yourself be perf ected. Here we can plainly trace the 
influence on all later Christian thinking of Jesus' own 
message of the Kingdom. There has been no dis- 
placement of the original gospel by a mystical doc- 
trine. Behind the idea of a new inward life, born 
of the Spirit, there is still the anticipation of a reign 
of God over his people. It is hardly possible, indeed, 
to distinguish between the new birth and entrance 
into the new community. 
" We have already seen that for Jesus himself the 

sralDes'iro^sionally by the very term characteristic 
of the Fourth Gospel as "eternal life." In the 
Synoptic Gospels, however, "eternal life" is to be 



164 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

understood literally as "life in the coming aeon/' in 
the future age. It signifies that the present life, 
transported into the ampler conditions of the King- 
dom, will realize itself fully and harmoniously. In 
the Fourth Gospel the word "eternal" denotes a 
difference in quality. The life bestowed by Christ 
belongs to the higher sphere of being, and is divine 
instead of earthly. With the later teachers the idea 
of the coming Kingdom seems to fall entirely out 
of sight. But while they think of the life as bestowed 
now, in response to faith in Christ, they still regard 
it as the life of the hereafter. This, indeed, belongs 
to the essence of their conception. They believe that 
amidst the earthly conditions men can reach forward 
to what they shall be, dying to the old life and 
entering on their citizenship in heaven. Paul, more 
especially, connects his whole teaching on the new 
life with his doctrine of the Spirit the supernatural 
power which comes forth from the higher world. 
In the Spirit we receive the earnest or first fruits of 
our inheritance. In so far as it dwells in us we 
possess already that immortal life which is laid up 
for the future. At first sight there may seem to be 
little relation between Paul's doctrine of the Spirit 
and Jesus' conception of the Kingdom of God. Yet 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 165 

perhaps it Is just here that we can best discern Paul's 
essential fidelity to the teaching of the Gospels. The 
great aim of Jesus was to link up man's present life 
with a glorious future. He declared that the King- 
dom was at hand; and that we must live bur lives 
as under its shadow, and realize here on earth that 
we are God's children. Where Jesus speaks of the 
nearness of the Kingdom, Paul thinks of the Spirit 
working in our hearts. No doubt there are elements 
in his thought which we do not find in Jesus. He 
turns the language of apocalyptic into a mystical 
theology which is quite foreign to the Synoptic 
message. Yet he reasserts in his own manner the 
thought of Jesus that the Kingdom is near so near 
that we can yield ourselves now to that divine power 
which is presently to be revealed. 

Not only is the later conception in accord with 
that of Jesus but it brings into clear relief a side of 
his teaching which is equally present in the Synoptic 
Gospels though it lies beneath the surface. Often 
we are told that they represent him as little more 
than a prophet of righteousness, and that any other 
view of him is due to a perversion or a misunder- 
standing on the part of the later church. His aim 
was to impress on men the principles of right living, 



166 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

to establish a new social order, to make love and 
service the sole motives of human action. But we 
miss the very heart of his message when we suppose 
that he made right living an end in itself. He in- 
sisted on the doing of God's will because he saw 
in this the true path toward fellowship with God. 
It was this deeper import in the teaching on which 
Paul and the others laid hold, and which they dis- 
close with a matchless power and insight. They do 
not obscure the original gospel or put something else 
in place of it, but they penetrate to its inward mean- 
ing. Jesus had taught the new righteousness and had 
shown by word and example how men might follow 
it in their own lives and in all their intercourse with 
their fellow men. Love, justice, forgiveness these 
are God's attributes^anH according as we manifest 
them we become like God. But the new law will 
-fail: iir its purpose, as the old ond did, unless it Helps 
us toward a deeper and fuller life. This, in its 
iiltimate issue, was the, . jgg$$agg, .pTTJfisiis, and 
although it underlies all die Synoptic sayings we are 
often unconscious of it when we take them by them- 
selves. Their true drift is illuminated by that later 
gospel which may appear, at first sight, to leave 
them out of account. It enables us to grasp the 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 167 

promise of the Kingdom in its full significance as 
the message of a new life. 

(5) The Church 

In the course of the early centuries the idea of 
the Kingdom came to merge itself, almost entirely, 

in that of the church. Augustine, in the memorable 

+*.***********., 

work which marks the beginning of the second great 
phase of Christian history, conceives of a CitjMDf 
Godjn which the life of mankind since the creation 
is to find its fulfillment. He takes for granted thai 
this city or commonwealth is now realizing itself in 
the church, which is entrusteid with supernatural 
powers, and is destined to supersede all earthly 
kingdoms. It was on this theory that the dominant 
church of the next thousand years was founded. In 

'ii, *,.,' Jf> '-"' A,'V' 1 ">''.V*v M , i ' ' . , , i "i i ,i- ,' ' ' 

^ament there is no identification of the 
xrti trio xiiuidi^ 1/ut it wus ztssuitied, almost 
from the Jfast;. that jhey were somehow bound 
together. What Jesus had promised was a universal 
reign of God, and the church was the instrument 
toward this consummation. It was like the earthly 
outpost of the heavenly community, and shared in 
its nature and privileges. No clear line could be 
drawn between the Kingdom and the church. This 



168 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

belief is read back into the teaching of Jesus in our 
Synoptic Gospels, especially in the Gospel of Mat- 
thew. It comes out most clearly in Matthew's 
version o some of the Parables. They were spoken 
pf the Kingdom and their .true meaning f may still 
be conjectured; but they are so reported as to bear 
directly on the duties and perplexities of the church. 
In the Fourth Gospel, although the church is never 
actually mentioned, the idea of it becomes central. 
The whole purpose of Jesus' work is understood in 
its relation to the community of his people, in whom 
he will be glorified. 

It has often been pointed out that this exaltation 

A nyvn','v-,-'a!H' i "HI 

of the church is quite foreign to the teaching of 

* , 't ,*'.'. .. , .Ir . '., , ,,7%,,., ,,. /....'* )".*!.* 

Jesus. Indeed it is more than doubtful whether he 
contemplated the rise of a society such as came into 
being after his death. He nowhere alludes to the 
church except in two passages of Matthew, both 
of which may be set aside, on critical grounds, as 
unauthentic." He spoke of the Kingdom as dose 
at hand, and while he may not have expected it to 
come immediately he cannot have anticipated a lapse 
of ages, during which a great institution would be 
necessary for the furtherance of his work. For that 

1T Mt. 16:18; 18:17. 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 169 

part, he looked for the speedy end of all earthly 
institutions, and cannot hive meant to create another. 
Must we not conclude that the church, as it grew 
up in the ages following, was not only outside of the 
plan of Jesus but directly opposed to it? 

We are further reminded that the confusion of 
church and Kingdom may well be explained-from 
purely historical causes. It was due, in some meas- 
ure, to the failure of the hope of the Parousia. As 
pears wentjDn and a whole generation passed away 
without any sign of the Lord's return, it was con- 
cluded that his promise had been misunderstood. 
The expected Kingdom had not come, but the 
church, which looked to Christ as its Lord, was 
growing from more to more and seemed destined 
to overcome the world. It was jfos .chur^bi , Jbie giust 
have meant when he spoke of the future Kingdom. 
In a more gefieral ^y^^i^^c^non^i^ the 
church was due to historical causes. It is the fate of 
all ideals to harden, sooner or later, into institu- 
tions. They cannot make themselves effectual ex- 
cept through some organization, and by and by the 
organization displaces the ideal itself. Almost every 
movement which had its birth in a noble enthusiasm 
has ended in that manner. The spiritual impulse 



170 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

has died down and nothing remains but the mechan- 
ism it has created. So in the view of many die for- 

^v, , - rr-"*-- '? V - ' '' '"WW ^" ' *~ " '-"^ 

mation of the church was the great tragedy of ouj 
religion Jesus ha3 appe^ed'with his glbttoiis idfeal 
of the Kingdom of God. He had inspired a multi- 
tude of his followers to work for this ideal, and they 
had formed themselves into a society. As time went 
on the society became an end in itself. Jesus had 
proclaimed the Kingdom, and instead of it there 
arose the church. 

It may fairly be argued, however, that when we 
examine the origin of the church even from the 
strictly historical point of view these explanations 
are not sufficient. Jesus may not have foreseen the 
church as it afterwards became, but when he pro- 
claimed the Kingdom he also formed a society to 
work for it. His company of twelve disciples was 
only the nucleus of a much larger body of followers 
whom he attracted even in his lifetime. The church 
grew directly out of this fellowship which owed its 
origin to Jesus himself. Again, whether he literally 
founded the church or not, he made it necessary. His 
teaching, as we have seen, was social in its nature, 
and those who tried to follow it were compelled to 
form themselves into a brotherhood. There is no 



1HE LATER DEVELOPMENT 171 

sign that the church was called into being by any 
formal and deliberate act. It was the natural and 
inevitable outcome of those ideas which the disciples 
had learned from Jesus. Once more, the Kingdom 
had always been associated with a community of 
God's people. For Jewish apocalyptic this commu- 
nity had been Israel, and while Jesus broke away 
from the purely national idea he still took for 
granted that God would reign over a people. He 
taught that while men must enter into a personal 
relation to God they could only serve him when they 
were united with one another. The great command- 
ment is not one but two: "Thou shalt love the Lord 
with all thy heart and thy neighbour as thyself." 
Everywhere the message has this social implication, 
and could not but give rise to a society. 

At the same time the society which Jesus contem- 
plated was of a new and unique kind. He believed 
that the world as now constituted was soon to come 
to an end. A new order would be established in 
which all earthly institutions would cease to be, and 
men were to throw in their lot, even now, with that 
new order. They were to live as they would here- 
after live in the Kingdom. This was ^e task to 
which the first disciples set themselves. As a com- 



172 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

pany of men and women who were waiting for the 
Kingdom they felt as if already they belonged to it, 
and their whole aim was to mark themselves oflF from 
all existing societies. They governed their lives not 
by any accepted laws but by those principles, revealed 
by Jesus, which would hold good in the new age. 
They had no organization or official leaders but 
trusted wholly to the guidance of the Spirit, as it 
declared itself in the ecstatic utterances of the 
prophets. Their citizenship was in heaven, and in 
all their practice and intercourse they sought to con- 
form to the higher order. 
This belief that while living in the world they 

^ W *^IW,U M ^^^. ,,,,,, , .*,... *- k-iM**' .* -',.,,, 

belonged to the Kingdom was intensely real to the 
early disciples, and here we may discover the ger- 
minal idea of the cfiurdb. A^mystery attached to it 
from the first Its members were supposed to have 
entered in some measure already on the conditions 
of the hereafter. To be baptized into the church 
meant that you had passed into a higher sphere; you 
became "holy" set apart from the world and the 
church in its totality was the "ecclesia of God," the 
divinely chosen community. This attempt to realize 
the idea of a society which existed on earth but 
stood for a supernatural order and was governed by 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 173 

the Spirit, could not be sustained. By and by, with 
the waning of the early enthusiasm, the church con- 
formed itself to the laws which hold good for every 
human institution. It became more and more ab- 
sorbed in the perfecting of its organization, and 
sought finally to suppress all free activity of the 
Spirit.xYet beneath the formalism the original idea 
has always persisted. The church to this day feels 
itself to be a society apart, representing an order 
which is not that of the visible world. No one re- 
proaches the state or the municipality because it 
studies its own interests and aims at securing for 
its members the maximum of material good. That 
is its function as an organism which has grown out 
of earthly conditions and is intended to serve them. 
But to call the church "worldly" has always been felt 
to be its worst condemnation. By its very idea it 
stands for something beyond this present world. It 
has failed of its purpose unless it somehow impresses 
on men the fact of another, invisible order. 

Here, then, we discern the true connection be- 
tween the teaching of Jesus and the rise of the 
church after his death. It was not by any perver- 
sion, willful or accidental, that his message of the 
Kingdom came to be interpreted in terms of the 



174 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

church. There was a real sense in which the church 
was related to the Kingdom, was itself the King- 
dom. It is true that Jesus looked for a miraculous 
change, whereby the Kingdom would come into 
being in a moment. When the church, establishing 
itself slowly through human instruments was taken 
as a substitute for the Kingdom it seemed like a 
tacit acknowledgment that Jesus had been a vision- 
ary. His hope in its original form had come to noth- 
ing and this visible Kingdom was accepted in its 
stead. Yet the thought of Jesus, expressed as it was 
in apocalyptic language, had been that God himself 
must bring in the Kingdom; and from this belief the 
church has never departed. It was the grand convic- 
tion of Paul and the other missionaries that through 
Christ a divine power had entered into the world. 
What men could never accomplish for themselves 
had been done for them by the grace of God, wfiich 
they must be willing to receive by the act of faith. 
The church has always testified to this higher power 
working by means of it for man's salvation. Its 
message in all its forms has rested on this belief that 
God himself will bring his will to pass, and here we 
can recognize the essential thought of Jesus. 
It is not difficult, then, to see how the Kingdom 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 175 

became identified with the church. Between the idea 
in Jesus' mind and the society ^vhich took shape after 
his (death there were points of real resemblance, (l) 
The Kingdom was that condition of things in wfiftfi 
God would reign. Taken in its widest sense this 
implied that the whole creation would undergo a 
change, whereby it would be molded perfectly to the 
divine purpose. This larger vision was doubtless 
present to Jesus, but he thought of the Kingdom 
primarily as God's reign over men the subjection of 
all human desires and motives to God's will. It was 
to realize this new condition that the church came 
into being. Within the Christian brotherhood men 
had broken with the world and its service. They had 
come under a higher law, and sought in their own 
little circle to anticipate that future time when God 

would reign on earth as in heaven. 

^ *<*, *^ 

>" ( 2 ) I e sus had looked forward to a holy commu- 

^gjpK*"'* *-**""' "'" '''""" *** ** ... ., . , w |1( , t t . , ... , , bV ,,, 

nity, a true Israel of God. No douBt Hs 'ultimate 
concern was with the personal life. The Kingdom 
would come when each man had the law of God 
written in his heart and would know God for him* 
self as Father. But this relation to God was to be 
maintained and fostered through the relation to 
other men. In his vision of the Kingdom Jesus 



176 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

thought of a perfect fellowship o men with one 
another, and the church arose out of the effort to 
realize this ideal of Jesus. He had foretold a com- 
munity ruled wholly by the will of God; might it 
not be possible, in some measure, to anticipate this 
community? It is false to say that the hope of the 
Kingdom was forgotten in the building up of a mere 
organization. The organization itself had arisen, in 
the Jlast resort, out of the hope. 

(3) The Kingdom was to mean the reversal of 
present standards the exaltation of a new type of 
character. From the Beatitudes onward this is an 
idea that runs continually through the teaching of 
Jesus. The church set itself to give effect to it in a 
visible society. It conferred honor on those whom 
the world hitherto had despised. Service, humility, 
patience under wrongs, preference of others to one- 
self had always been the marks of weakness. The 
church accepted them as virtues. It based itself on 
those standards of excellence which, according to 
Jesus, were to obtain in the Kingdom of God. Not 
only so, but it believed that in this manner it would 
some day overcome the world. Nothing in the New 
Testament is more impressive than the magnificent 
confidence of the church, even in those early days 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 177 

when it seemed utterly negligible. Paul thinks of 
his handfuls of obscure converts as the heirs of the 
future. The seer of Revelation describes the perse- 
cuted church as already triumphing over the all- 
powerful empire. What seems its weakness is to 
prove its invincible strength. So the church's aim 
was to foreshadow the Kingdom by accepting its new 
scale of values. It may be granted that even in New 
Testament times the baser estimates too often pre- 
vailed, and perhaps a day may never come when the 
church will attain to anything but a compromise 
between the law of the Kingdom and the law of this 
world. Jesus himself it must always be remem- 
bered, looked for a fulfillment which would only be 
possible in a new age, when all conditions would be 
different. None the : less the ^ church, ideally, ^ is that 
society in which men, take ranlc according to their 
love and service, and all things are measured by 
their spiritual worth. Jesus' great conception of a 
new order in which the world's standards would be 
reversed has been at least partially realized in the 
church. 

Too much, indeed, has commonly been made of 
the shortcomings of the church when compared with 
Jesus' demand. Every attempt to embody an ideal 



178 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

in the resisting material of ordinary life is bound to 
fall short, and men declare, as they look at the 
fragmentary result, that the high hopes and imagina- 
tions have come to nothing. Yet an ideal is futile 
unless it finds some embodiment, however imper- 
fect. It is not debased but made richer and more 
significant through the halting endeavor to change 
it into f act. ,So we may truly daim that the message 
of Jesus has come to its own through the church. 
Taken by itself the message might seem fantastic, 
and in all times there have been those who regarded 
Jesus as a visionary, out of touch with the realities of 
life. But his disciples believed in his vision, and tried 
to build up a community which in some degree 
would answer to it. They required that in this society 
men should live together as brethren, should seek 
after love and goodness as the best possessions, 
should find the true end of their being in fellowship 
with God. In the historical church, with all its errors 
and inconsistencies, we can see at least the reflection 
of the Kingdom as conceived by Jesus. 
It is only when we think of the church in its rela- 

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f ' ! Whjfly 

ch i? $$^$d to it in the New 

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Testament. For Paul and John the purpose of man's 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 179 

life is to share in the life of God, but this idea of 
the new life is blended with that of the church. 
Paul's chief care when he began a mission was to 
form a community, consisting, it might be, of only 
three or four members, which should represent the 
church. Apart from this communion he seems to 
have deemed the Christian life impossible. He takes 
for granted that the incestuous-man at Corinth when 
cut off from the church will fall back into the hands 
of Satan. 18 He thinks of the Spirit, which awakens 
and nourishes the new life, as residing in the cfrurch, 
through which it is mediated to the individual be- 
liever. In the Fourth Gospel this connection of the 
church with the new life is everywhere assumed. 
The Gospel culminates in the seventeenth chapter, in 
which Christ offers his prayer for the church. 
Throughout the Supper discourse which has gone 
immediately before he has spoken of that eternal 
life which he brings to men, and now he declares 
that the life-giving union with himself is effected 
through fellowship with the church. "I in them and 
thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one." lf 
How had these mystical ideas attached themselves to 
the visible society? How had this institution which 
"1 Cor. 5:5, 18 Jin, 17:23. 



180 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

proclaimed the message become an integral part of 
the message itself? The answer is that behind the 
conception of the church lay that of the Kingdom. 
Everything that Jesus had spoken of the Kingdom 
was transferred to the church, which represented it 
on earth. 

It is in the Epistle to the Ephesians that the mys- 
tical doctrine of the church finds its most memorable 
expression. The author of this Epistle, whether 
Paul himself or one of his disciples, is concerned 
with the ultimate plan which God is seeking to fulfill 
in his government of the world. It has hitherto been 
hidden even from the angels, but can now be dis- 
cerned in the light of the Christian message, and it 
consists in this that "God has purposed to reunite 
all things to himself in Christ." * The primal har- 
mony of the universe has somehow been broken. 
There is conflict in the heavenly world, in human 
society, in man's inner life. All the warring elements 
are finally to be reconciled by their converging in 
Christ as the one center, and the instrument which 
God is using for this world-wide reconciliation is the 
church. Jews and Gentiles, all diverse races and 
interests, have become united in one body of Christ. 

110 Eph. 1:10. 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 181 

Through the church, in which he immediately dwells, 
Christ will gather to himself all conflicting forces 
and bring the world back to harmony. The universe 
will be filled by him as he now fills the church. In 
the cosmical sweep of the writer's thought there is 
much that anticipates the later Gnostic speculations, 
and it can hardly be doubted that the resemblance is 
more than accidental. Those vast problems which 
Greek metaphysic had bequeathed to Christianity, 
and which Gnosticism was to attempt to solve, had 
already begun to occupy the New Testament think- 
ers. Yet in this Ephesian Epistle we can clearly trace 
the influence of Jesus' own conception of the King- 
dom of God. The religious idea is construed philo- 
sophically, and applied to those questions which 
had proved beyond the reach of reason. What is 
God's purpose with the world? Is there any 
meaning behind the strife and confusion in which 
our eyes can see nothing but a blind whirl of chance? 
The writer discerns a plan in the light of which 
everything must be interpreted. God has so ordered 
the whole course of the world that all things will at 
last be reconciled to himself in Christ. Nothing could 
seem more different from the teaching of the Gos- 
pels than the abstruse speculations of this Epistle. 



182 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

Yet they both turn on the same conception of the 
Kingdom of God. 

For this writer, therefore, the church is the in 
trumerit :'t5y "which God is working out his purpose 
not for men only but for the universe. Christ has 
formed for himself a community in which men of 
all races and classes are united in the service of 
God but this is only the beginning. The reconcili- 
ation now manifest in the church will extend ever 
more widely. In its final consummation the King- 
dom will embrace die whole world, Brought back 
into harmony. Through the church and it is this 
which gives it a mysterious significance God has 
begun the fulfillment of his eternal pjbsuu 

So the church became in some degree identified 
for later thought with the Kingdom. It cannot be 
denied that the message of Jesus was thus in many 
respects obscured. Not only so but the church, be- 
lieving that it was itself the Kingdom, laid claim to 
mysterious powers and privileges. It established a 
tyranny to which men would never have submitted 
if they had not learned to accept it as the visible 
reign of God. There is truth in the view that the 
coming of the Kingdom has been retarded by this 
confusion of it with the church. Men have looked 



THE LATER DEVELOPMENT 183 

only to the earthly institution and have assumed that 
by membership in it they have entered the King- 
dom. Yet the knowledge that in some manner it 
represents the Kingdom foretold by Jesus has been 
the safeguard and inspiration of the church. Even in 
its worst days it has never wholly forgotten its 
divine calling. In the belief that it was bound up 
mysteriously with a higher order it has been en- 
abled to rise above the world. 



IV 

CONCLUSION 

OUR religion began with the proclamation, "The 
Kingdom of God is at hand," and this has always 
been its central message. It might seem to have 
changed the message, almost from the beginning. 
The disciples, while calling ; themselves v ,,by the name 
of Christ, made him the sponsor for a mystical or 
social or philosophical teaching which had no place 
in his own gospel. But when we look deeper we can 
discern his idea of the Kingdom underlying all later 
thought and expressing itself in many different 
forms. 

The idea had come down to Jesus through Hebrew 
religion. God had always been worshiped as King 
of Israel, and a rime was looked for when he would 
be acknowledged by the whole world. In those com- 
ing days Israel would be exalted, peace and righteous- 
ness would dwell on the earth, nature itself would 
be restored to its original glory. This hope of a 

184 



CONCLUSION 185 

Golden Age was splendidly set forth in Old Testa- 
ment prophecy, and was elaborated in the apocalyp- 
tic books under influences which had come in from 
Persia. But while now associated with the type of 
thought which we call apocalyptic, it was part of 
ordinary Judaism in the time of Jesus. His teaching 
was new, not because he had attached himself to 
some eccentric sect, but because he gave a new scope 
and direction to the prevailing hope. 

His difference from other Jewish teachers con- 
sisted, broadly speaking, in this that where they 
were concerned with the outward aspects he was 
intent on the inward character of the Kingdom. A 
time was coming when the wiUjof, God. would be 
perfectly fulfilled and men would enter into a new 
relation to God. All else was viewed in the light of 
this spiritual change. There would be a new com- 
munity, based not on race or privilege but on com- 
mon obedience to God as Father. There would be 
a new order, not merely because nature would return 
to its pristine glory, but because the higher^ jnyisible 
world would become real. It followed that many of 
the apocalyptic ideas had little meaning for Jesus, 
even when in form he retained them. The Kingdom 

C*"-"--* "--- w ">-- 

was in the future, but in so far as they submitted to 



186 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

God's will men could enter it in the present. It was 
come suddenly and supernaturally, yet for God's 
servants it was an inward possession. God was to 
bring it in by his own immediate act; to this belief 
Jesus always remained faithful. Yet he allowed for 
other modes of divine action than those of visible 
miracle. The Kingdom was in its essence moral and 
spiritual, and God would establish it by renewing 
the hearts of men. 

Nothing has so obscured Jesus' conception as the 
attempt to sum it up in a single formula. It has been 
assumed that since he took up the apocalyptic tra- 
dition his thought must all be construed apocalyp- 
tically; since his teaching is mainly ethical he had 
nothing in his mind but an ethical ideal; since he 
dealt so largely with social relations his interest was 
in the building up of a new society. All one-sided 
interpretation of this kind means a narrowing and 
distortion of the idea of Jesus. The Kingdom as he 
conceived it was at once the higher, spiritual order, 
the better righteousness, the larger human brother- 
hood, the life of inward fellowship with God! Nbnd 
of these excludes the others. All are necessary to the 
completeness of the hope of that new age when God 
will be all in all. 



CONCLUSION 187 

Jesus' own teaching on the Kingdom cannot be 
rightly understood apart from its development in 
later New Testament thought. Paul and the other 
writers seldom employ the actual term which Jesus 
had used. They speak of the new life, the spiritual 
world, the functions and destiny of the church; and 
we seem to have passed into a region of thought in 
which the original message was forgotten. Yet the 
real theme is still the Kingdom. The great concep- 
tion is taken out of its apocalyptic setting and 
brought into line with Greek and Oriental specula- 
tion. Ideas which for Jesus had been moral and 
spiritual are construed metaphysically 'and are con- 
nected with a sacramental mode 6f""w6rsMp. But 
behind Jill ^the^ later int^xetaab ^ve. can discern 
the authentic idea of Jesus. Not only so, but there 
are aspects of his thought which are presented more 
amply and dearly in the later teaching than in his 
own. "Within the Jewish forms which he inherited 
he was unable to express his full meaning. We are 
conscious ever and again that he is striving to put 
new wine into old bottles to convey some great 
truth in language or imagery which is too narrow for 
it. In the Gentile church these larger implications of 
the message found release. The categories worked 



188 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

out by centuries of philosophical reflection supplied 
the necessary vehicle whereby the thought of Jesus 
came to its own. 

The idea of the Kingdom which Jesus took over 
from apocalyptic Judaism impresses us now as ut- 
terly fantastic. With its assumption that God would 
shortly interpose to destroy the world and create in 
its stead a new supernatural order it involved a 
mode of thinking which even in the first century was 
out of date. When he attached his religion to this 
outworn conception Jesus might seem to have ex- 
duded it from any chance of permanence. For a 
little while his followers might be held together by 
a fanatical hope but they would soon be disillu- 
sioned, and the religion of the Kingdom would go 
the way of all movements which have no basis in 
reality. This, we know, was what his enemies antici- 
pated. Gamaliel, in the book of Acts, compares the 
new teaching to other apocalyptic excitements of the 
recent past and draws his moral: "Refrain from these 
men and let them alone; for if this counsel or this 
work be of men it will come to nought." * Yet the 
religion has endured. It passed from Palestine into 

^0.5:38. 



CONCLUSION 189 

the Gentile world and is still winning new victories, 
after two thousand years. It has held its ground 
amidst all the later systems which have arisen from 
time to time, and has ultimately survived them. And 
when we look for the secret of its permanence we 
find it in the very fact that it has proclaimed the 
Kingdom of God. This conception which seemed to 
bind it hopelessly to an obsolete mythology has 
proved vital and inexhaustible. Why is it that in all 
ages men have thus responded to that message of the 
Kingdom? 

(l) For one thing, although the hope had come 
to Jesus under the peculiar forms of Jewish thought, 
it had its springs in needs and aspirations which are 
common to all men. In every religion which has 
broken through the confines of mere savagery there 
is at least some suggestion of the hope. We can trace 
it in old Babylonian speculation, in the Persian be- 
lief that the Light would at last overcome the 
Darkness, in Plato's theory of the ideal world. All 
nations have looked beyond the misery of the pres- 
ent to a coming Golden Age. Religion has its very 

**u^jT; Lx*^-.Vi^'*^fc' *'*" tij '** 

roots in man's invincible faith that God is over all, 

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and that his will must at last prevail. To this deep- 



190 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

seated belief that there is some high fulfillment to- 
ward which the world is traveling we must attribute 
the enduring power of Jesus' message. 

(2) Again, he identified the hope of the King- 
dom with a moral and spiritual ideal. The hope had 
grown up in the dark days of Israel when hearts 
were failing. Men looked beyond the disastrous 
present to the coming day when God would assert 
himself as King, and were filled with a new cour- 
age. In all ages this thought of some great good re- 
served for the future has been the inspiring motive. 
Without the vision of a fulfillment to which all 
things are working, all impulse and meaning would 
die out of human life. It was the grand achieve- 
ment of Jesus that he blended this vision of the 
future with the moral ideal. By proclaiming the 
Kingdom he roused his followers to a boundless en- 
thusiasm, in the strength of which they set forth on 
their world-wide mission. It seemed at the time to 
be a passing excitement which would subside of it- 
self with the failure of the apocalyptic hope. But he 
had filled this hope with a new significance. As we 
study his teaching we ask ourselves, "What did he 
mean by the Kingdom of God? Did he think QfJfc 

, *. .i . . , , w?**'*** '*"** 

as .the cqmi^,^ okzffauce to 



CONCLUSION 191 

God's will?" The question cannot be answered, for in 
the mind of Jesus the two things had become in- 
separable. The glorious future meant also the will 
of God. According as we become God's children 
we bring the Kingdom nearer, we have part in it 
even now. So the enthusiasm that springs from the 
hope of the future was directed henceforth to the life 
of moral obedience. The service of God and the 
splendid vision went hand in hand and gave mean- 
ing to one another. It had hitherto been taken for 
granted that the moral law had been imposed by 
some higher power and must be enforced in spite of 
man's resistance. All religions and ethical systems 
made it their one task to devise checks and compul- 
sions which would hold men down to their hard but 
necessary duty. Jesus for the first time put inspira- 
tion into the moral ideal. He enlisted on its side all 
those ardors which were awakened by the thought 
of the future. It is this which gives an enduring 
value to his message of the Kingdom. He took what 
in itself was a wild apocalyptic hope and made it the 
living and uplifting power behind all action. 

(3) Once more, the permanence of his message 
is due, above all, to its many-sidedness. We have 
seen that in the New Testament itself the idea of the 



192 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

Kingdom is understood in various ways, and every 
succeeding age has placed its own construction on it. 
In view of these many interpretations, all of which 
can be supported by actual sayings of Jesus, it has 
often been held that he contradicted himself, or that 
ideas which came in from later reflection have been 
read into his teaching. But all the interpretations 
are valid. He started from the traditional belief in a 
new age when God would reign, but saw what was 
involved in this reign of God. It would mean a new 
righteousness, a higher spiritual order, a perfected 
human society, an inward fellowship with God. All 
this was implied for Jesus in the idea of the King- 
dom. Men seized on his message and began, almost 
at once, to explain it in different ways, according to 
their own beliefs and temperaments. 

Christianity has broken into many divisions, each 
claiming to represent the authentic gospel and often 
opposed to each other in bitter antagonism. But all 
of them are right. Jesus proclaimed a message of 
which some aspect is truly preserved in each of the 
countless sects which prophesy in his name. Yet all 
of them are wrong; for in the thought of Jesus all 
those elements were fused together, and none of 
them can be rightly understood when they are taken 



CONCLUSION 193 

separately. It is commonly maintained that Jesus 
brought an altogether simple message which in the 
course of ages has been complicated and overlaid. 
Our task, we are told, is to clear away the accretions 
and go "back to Christ," back to the one simple 
idea which was everything. But his message, the 
more we examine it, was broad and manifold. We 
do not recover it by discarding all the later interpre- 
tations but by including them. The error of the 
church has not consisted in explaining the message 
so variously but in breaking it into fragments, and 
insisting that some one fragment was the whole. We 
shall get "back to Christ" when we are able once 
more to apprehend all the diverse elements of his 
thought in their original harmony. To return in this 
sense to Jesus himself is indeed the task of the 
church. 

His conception was a manifold one, and for this 
reason it must always remain central in our religion. 
It gathers into itself all the hopes and beliefs and 
sympathies that enter into man's higher life. The 
generations follow one another, and as each comes 
in with new ideals it complains that Christianity is 
bound up with the bygone order, and has no fresh 



194 THE KINGDOM OF GOD 

direction to offer. Yet when men go back to Jesus' 
message of the Kingdom they always find in it some 
truth, hitherto neglected, on which the new knowl- 
edge and the new endeavor can base themselves. 
"In my Father's house are many mansions" this 
great Johannine forecast of the Kingdom is true also 
of Jesus' conception of it. There is room within its 
borders for all the meanings which men have found 
in it, or will yet find. All fulfillments of the divine 
purpose were foreshadowed by Jesus when he spoke 
of the Kingdom of God. The promise of it will 
always, as at the first, sum 



INDEX 



Action, 97, 98f. 
Ahriman, 23f. 
Ahura Mazda, 23f. 
Alexandrian philosophy, 148 
Amesha Spentas, 25 
Anaxagoras, 51 
Angelic powers, 28 
Apocalyptic, 29f., 45, 55f., 115f., 

134f., 191 

Assyrian invasion, 70 
Augustine, 70 

Baal, 13 

Babylonian religion, 15, 20, 189 
Back to Christ, 193 
Baptism, 56, 172 
Beatitudes, 62, 176 
Brotherhood, 104 
Boundless Time, 23 

Catastrophe, 70 
Change of mind, 58, 84 
Church, I67f. 
Church and Kingdom, 68 
Coming Age, 37, 61, 164 
Communion with God, 95 
Community, 104, 113, 162, 179 
Creation story, 15 

Daniel, 29 

Dante, 40 

Days of the Messiah, 37 

Death of Christ, 17, 121 



Ecclesia, 172 
Eden, 20 

Eleusinian mysteries, 71 
Enoch, book of, 30, 60, 64 
Entrance into the Kingdom, 82 
Ephesians, Epistle to, 163, 18 Of. 
Eternal Life, 92, 155, 163 
Ethical interest, 29, 10 If. 
Evolution, 117 
Exodus, 70 

Faith in Christ, 142, 159 
Fellowship with God, 100 
Forgiveness, 85f. 
Forms, apocalyptic, 116 
Fourth Esdras, 29, 30 
Fourth Gospel, 120, 138, 163, 

168, 179 
Future, the Kingdom as, 66f., 

140, 191 

Gamaliel, 188 
Gnosticism, 181 
Golden Age, 20, 185, 189 
Greek Fathers, 160 
Greek religion, 157, 187 

Hebrews, Epistle to, 135, 15 if. 
Hellenistic Judaism, 44 
Hellenistic religion, 159 
Herod, 33 

Higher order, 90, 111, 146 
High priest, Christ as, 152 



195 



196 



INDEX 



Holiness, 172 
Hope, 140 
Hypocrisy, 84 

Idea of the Good, 147 
Idealism, 157 
Ideal world, I43f. 
Immortality, 138 
Incorruption, 151 
Individualism, 107f. 
Intelligible world, 150 
Interim ethic, 101 
Invisible world, 34 
Inward life, 90f. 
Israel of God, 175 

John the Baptist, 12, 13, 55, 83, 

102 

Jubilees, book of, 69 
Judgment, 58, 61 
Justin, 131 

Khashthra Vairya, 24 

Kingdom of Ahura, 24 

King of Israel, God as, 13f., 184 

Law, religion of, 32, 86 
Living God, 92 
Logos, 148 
Lord's Prayer, 88 
Love, 86, 103 
Luther, 125 

Maccabaean revival, 33, 70 
Malkuth Shamaim, 41 
Marriage, law of, 64 
Melkart, 13 
Messiah, 35, 56, 119f. 
Middle Ages, 40 



Millennium, 37, 117 
Miracles, 66, 122 
Moloch, 13 
Monasticism, 106 
Monotheism, 42 
Moral order, 112 
Mystery religions, 158, 162 
Mythology, 19 

Nationalism, 39, 171 

New age, 61 

New law, 62 

New life, 155f. 

New righteousness, 96f. 

Occult knowledge, 158 
Oriental thought, 131, 143, 156, 

187 
Original sin, 87 

Parables, 168 

Parmenides, 51 

Parousia, 71, 169 

Paul, 136, 139, 155f., 161 

Persian influence, 22f., 189 

Pessimism, 32 

Pharisees, 97 

Philo, 143, I48f. 

Philosophy, 32, l43f. 

Pilgrim's Progress, 31 

Plato, 51, I46f., 189 

Prayer-book, 19 

Present, the Kingdom as, 66 

Primitive church, 135 

Prophets, Christian, 59, 136 

Psalms of Solomon, 36, 127 

Rabbinical teaching, 40f ., 94 
Reality, 77 



INDEX 



197 



Reconciliation in Christ, 180f. 
Redeemer, 156 
Renunciation, 85 
Repentance, 83 
Resurrection, 132 
Return of Christ, 135 
Revelation, book of, 136f., 177 
Reward, the Kingdom as, 53 
Rohde, 157 

Sacramental religion, 79 

Sacraments, 159 

Saoshyant, 24 

Satan, 68 

Semitic religion, 13 

Sermon on the Mount, 62 

Shema, 43 

Sin, 85 

Social ethic, 103f. 

Socrates, 84 

Spirit, doctrine of, 164, 179 



Spiritual order, the Kingdom as, 

76f. 

Stoicism, 143 

Suddenness of divine action, 73 
Supernatural order, 172 
Synagogue, 45 

Teacher, Jesus as, 124 
Transcendentalism, 27 
Twelve disciples, 170 
Two ages, 66, 140 

Universal kingship of God, 16 

Virgil, 20 
Von Gall, 25 

Wisdom of Solomon, 92 
Yoke of the Kingdom, 43 
Zoroaster, 22